By Alison Bell
We all know that taking a few deep breaths is an automatic de-stressor.
Our heart rate and blood pressure go down, and we instantly feel more in control and relaxed.
Deep breathing has the same effect on children when they’re upset, but the trouble is, how to get them to stop shallow breathing and master a long inhale and exhale?
Make it a game, advises Stacey Roth, Hillsides Chief Program Officer. Here, she shares four fun ways to “trick” your child into taking slower, deeper breaths:
Serve Up a Drink with a Straw. Kids always like drinking through a straw because it makes any beverage seem special. The act of sipping through a straw stops shallow mouth breathing and engages the diaphragm for a big breath of air.
Break Out the Bubbles. Buy your children an old-fashioned bottle of bubbles and let them blow to their heart’s content. The blowing action requires a sustained stream of breath that encourages deep breathing.
Give Your Child a Pinwheel. All children love seeing the colors spin by as they blow – and the pinwheel also happens to be the symbol of Hillsides. The deeper breaths the kids take, the longer an exhale they’ll have to make the pinwheel keep turning. You can find toy pinwheels at toy stores or on-line novelty sites.
Play the `Flower and Candle’ Game. Ask your child to pretend to hold a flower in one hand, a candle in the other. Then ask him to breathe in deeply the sweet smell of the pretend flower. Next ask him to blow out the candle in his other hand. Make sure he blows hard on the candle to make sure the fake flame is all out. Repeat a few times and your child will be in the deep breathing groove!
Alison Bell serves as the communications and development associate in Hillsides advancement services and is an author and writing instructor.