15 Easy And Useful Breathing Exercises For Kids

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Breathing exercises for kids can have several benefits, including calming the child by reducing anxiety. The child may also benefit from improved respiratory function due to strengthening of the respiratory muscles from the exercises (1) (2). Breathing exercises may benefit children who usually tend to develop odd breathing patterns due to stress. Parents may try simple breathing exercises, in such cases, to calm the child down (3).

Read this post to know the benefits of breathing exercises and the various breathing exercises you may consider for your child.

Benefits Of Breathing Exercises For Children

With proper guidance, breathing exercises may benefit your child in many ways, including (2) (4)

  • Calming the nervous system
  • Decreasing feelings of anxiety
  • Lowering or preventing stress or strong emotions
  • Strengthening immunity
  • Increasing oxygen and energy levels
  • Stabilizing blood pressure
  • Strengthening the respiratory muscles

Tips For Teaching Breathing Exercises To Children

While teaching your children how to breathe may sound simple, its application can be challenging.

Here are some tips that may be useful for teaching breathing exercises to children (2) (5) (6):

  1. Start as soon as possible since the sooner you include breathing exercises into their routine, the more likely they are to rely on the exercises in times of emotional distress.
  1. Ensure your child recognizes their feelings of anxiety and stress and assure them that these feelings are normal and can be managed with breathing exercises.
  1. Regularly practice these exercises with your child so that they can look at you as a role model.
  1. Practice these techniques when your child is calm and focused.
  1. Select a peaceful and quiet space to help your child concentrate better. However, when your child breaks down, don’t worry about the place or time, but get them to take deep breaths to calm their mind.
  1. Use props, such as bubbles, pinwheels, or stuffed animals, to make the breathing exercises fun and interesting.
  1. Let your child repeat the activity independently and give them space to choose how and when they participate.

Breathing Exercises To Calm Children

Here are some fun breathing exercises that can positively impact your child’s life by helping them regulate their breathing in stressful situations:

1. Bubble breathing

Blowing bubbles as breathing exercises for kids

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This helpful breathing technique involves blowing bubbles, a fun activity for children that calms and releases their built-up anger and tension. During this exercise, focus the mind on the present moment while deliberately and intentionally blowing to make a bubble. Thus, breathing becomes the center of attention (2).

2. Smelling flowers

Smelling flowers as breathing exercises for kids

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Ask your child to pick a flower and tell them to inhale its smell deeply, hold it for a second, and then exhale it out slowly. You could also encourage them to do this exercise by saying that the air they exhale is good for the flowers (2).

3. Stuffed animal breathing

Ask your child to lie down and take deep breaths with their favorite stuffed animal on their belly while watching it rise and fall. It is a fun deep breathing exercise that will keep your child busy. Repeat this process for two to five minutes for better results (2).

4. Animal breathing

Using animal sounds as breathing exercises for kids

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This is a fun exercise if your child loves animals. Ask them to do bunny breathing (breathing in three times quickly through the nose and exhaling once slowly) or hiss like a snake while breathing out (2).

Other examples of animal breathing exercises are bumblebee breathing (inhale through the nose and exhale with a buzzing sound) and lion’s breath (inhale through the nose, open the mouth wide, and make a soft, throaty roar while exhaling) (5).

5. Lemon squeeze

Squeezing lemons for deep breathing exercises for kids

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This technique introduced by Roxana Bermudez, a mental health therapist at Children’s Bureau, involves asking your child to imagine holding a lemon in each palm. Then, they squeeze out all the juice by making fists while taking in deep breaths. Finally, they hold their breath for three seconds and relax their hands while exhaling. This technique does not require props and can be repeated till your child feels calm (2).

6. Belly breathing (diaphragmatic breathing or abdominal breathing)

This exercise focuses on expanding the abdomen and diaphragm instead of the chest. First, ensure that your child is calm and in a relaxed position, either sitting or lying on their back. Next, have them place their hands on their belly and inhale through their nose until the whole chest is filled, all the way to the belly, making it rise. Then, slowly exhale till the belly is empty (1) (6).

7. Using numbers

Deep breath counting as breathing exercises for kids

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While counting, ask your child to inhale and exhale on specific numbers. For instance, count to three while inhaling and to four while breathing out. This is similar to the rectangle breathing technique, where your child traces a rectangular pattern in the air or on paper. Have them slowly breathe in while slowly moving the finger up the short side of the rectangle and breathe out while tracing the long side of the rectangle (5).

8. Ocean breathing

Imaginary ocean breathing exercises for kids

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This is a deep diaphragmatic or abdominal breathing method similar to the stuffed animal breathing method. Have your child lie on their back while keeping their eyes closed and arms relaxed beside them. Place a toy boat on their belly and make them imagine they are a wave in the sea. Tell them to move the boat by exhaling and inhaling using only the belly and not the chest (7).

9. Color breathing

It is a form of meditation where your child imagines a color they like or one that represents happiness and positivity and another that represents negativity. Then, ask them to close their eyes and feel the positive color entering their body while inhaling and the negative color leaving them while exhaling (8).

10. Balloon inflation

Inflating balloons as breathing exercises for kids

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It is a yoga breathing exercise where your child blows an imaginary balloon and deflates it by inhaling slowly. Ask them to imagine the balloon expanding and shrinking as they do so. Steady, regulated breathing may help your child feel more relaxed and at ease (9).

11. Blowing candles

Blowing candles as breathing exercises for kids

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In this yoga breathing exercise, your child blows out imaginary candles. It is an excellent way to show your child how to collect their emotions after an outburst or tantrum and release them with short puffs of air (9).

12. Blowing toys

Blowing wind-based toys as breathing exercises for kids

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Ask your child to take a deep breath and blow toys such as a party blower, horn, whistle, or harmonica. This may help enhance lung function and aid in regulating the oral muscles, which are important for speech and eating. For best results, ask your child to do it a few times a day (10) (11).

13. Blow painting using straws

Straw blow painting as breathing exercises for kids

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Blow painting is a fun activity for children of all ages and involves deep breathing. To do this, you’ll need papers, droppers, liquid paint, and straws. Pour a few droplets of liquid paint on a paper and invite your child to form shapes by gently blowing the paint with a straw (11).

14. Vowel vibrations

Vowel breathing as breathing exercises for kids

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Ensure that your child is sitting in a relaxed position and ask them to take deep breaths. While exhaling, they should vocalize each vowel sound in a consistent tone, focusing on the location of vibration: U (belly), O (heart), A (chest), E (neck), and I (head). They could also exhale with consonant sounds that provide more airflow resistance, such as by imitating the wind (fff…) or a snake (sss…) (7).

15. Alternate nostril breathing

Alternate nostril breathing as breathing exercises for kids

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This technique can be useful in older children, where they breathe through alternate nostrils with their eyes closed. This is same as “Anulom-vilom pranayam” Follow these steps for this exercise:

  • Place the index and middle fingers of one hand between the eyebrows and rest the thumb and ring finger on either side of the nose.
  • Close the right nostril with the thumb or ring finger and inhale slowly and deeply through the left nostril.
  • Hold that breath for a short time and then hold the left nostril and exhale through the right side.
  • With the next breath, inhale through the right nostril, pause, and exhale through the left nostril.

This cycle can be repeated five to ten times. This exercise can calm and help bring clarity to a stressed mind by balancing the right and left sides of the brain and body (9).

Children, especially young ones, may not fully understand their feelings and may start acting out unpleasantly when they’re stressed. Breathing exercises can help your child by relaxing their mind, lowering stress, and improving focus. The different breathing practices explained in this post can help introduce your child to exercises that help with regulating emotions.

Key Pointers

  • Breathing exercises for children can improve their immunity, help them stay calm, and regulate blood pressure.
  • A simple activity of blowing bubbles can keep their lungs strong and minds relaxed.
  • Ocean breathing, using numbers, and many more fun breathing exercises for your children.

References:

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Dr. Anuradha Bansal

(MD)
Dr. Anuradha Bansal is a pediatrician and neonatologist working as assistant professor in the Department of Paediatrics at PIMS Jalandhar. She has done her MBBS and MD Pediatrics at GMCH, Chandigarh. Thereafter, she polished her skills as senior resident at MAMC, Delhi. She has also done IAP Fellowship in Neonatology at GMCH, Chandigarh and obtained the membership of the prestigious... more

Reshmi Das

Reshmi Das has over three years of experience as a clinical coordinator, medical content writer and medical conference coordinator. Her continuous interest in medical journals and writing makes her write well-researched articles for MomJunction. She writes health and wellness articles for children and pregnant and lactating women. Reshmi has completed her Master’s degree in Biotechnology. She is currently pursuing an Executive... more

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