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Belly Breathing

Belly breathing helps children (and adults!) to manage their emotions.

This breathing exercise is a calming technique that children of all ages can practice, and use when they experience big emotions.

Here, we offer ways to introduce belly breathing to children, including guided discussions, and ways to identify proper belly breaths!

What you need:

  • It will be helpful if you have a small stuffed animal for each child.

Opening Discussion:

  • Have children to think about times they have big feelings, and what they usually do in those situations. Ask if any of them would like to share these times and the feelings that they have.
  • Tell children you are going to teach them a special kind of breathing that a lot of people don’t know about! It’s called “belly breathing”.

Teaching belly breathing:

  • Have children place one hand on their chest and the other on their belly, and breathe normally. Point out that the hand on their belly stays in place, while the hand on their chest moves with their breath.
  • With hands still in place, ask children to concentrate on breathing in through their nose, and have the hand on their belly moves and the hand on their chest stays still. When our hands move like this, we are belly breathing!
  • Once students have the hang of this, have them breathe in slowly through their nose, and breathe out through their mouth.
  • Have children lay down, and place the small stuffed animal on their belly. Ask them to use their breathing to make the animal slowly go up and down.

Summary of breathing for children to remember:

  • When you are having a big feeling, try to identify it. Are you sad, mad, scared, overly excited?
  • Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth.
  • Breathe slowly.
  • Make sure your tummy moves, and your chest stays still.
  • Try to do this 5 times when you have big feelings.
  • Belly breathing can be done sitting quietly by yourself, or by having a stuffed animal friend help out!

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