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Teach Your Kids Deep Breathing Exercises

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Updated July 01, 2012

We all experience stress, and children are no different. Whether you're looking to stave off tantrums or help your family with general stress relief, this simple deep breathing exercise can help you and your child relax quickly and easily.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 5-10 Minutes

Here's How:

  1. Sit down with your children and explain that you're going to learn a new type of breathing: deep breathing. Ask them to take a few slow, deep breaths and let their tummy push out as their lungs fill with air, and naturally go in as the air leaves their lungs. (This is called "diaphragmic breathing" and is more calming than "shallow breathing" that moves your shoulders up and down.)
  2. Once their breathing is slowed and diaphragmic, tell them that you're going to breathe in for a longer time--for the count of six. (You can either count for them while they breathe, or you can breathe with them while counting with your fingers.) Some younger children may find a count of six too difficult; you can start with a count of three and gradually stretch it out.
  3. After you've practiced this a few times, introduce the last step: slowing your exhale. Kids tend to want to let the air "explode" out after a big inhale; practice exhaling to a count of six or even eight with them.
  4. Just practice this a few times each day, and deep breathing will be another tool you and your children can use when any of you is stressed. This is a great way of developing a lifelong habit of healthy stress management.

Tips:

  1. As with many other stress management techniques, this one gets even better with practice. The more you practice your deep breathing, the more automatic it becomes, even in the face of stress.
  2. Keep practice sessions short and fun. You can start with just one or two minutes of practice per day and work your way up to longer sessions.
  3. The best time to start is when your child is feeling relatively calm. If you try deep breathing for the first time in the throes of a tantrum, for example, you may not see success.
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