Do you ever reminisce about the good old days from your childhood when things seemed easier, more free, and less stressful? The days where you could ride your bike well into the evening, hang out in the woods with your friends, only to return when you heard your parents calling you for dinner?
Back then, the internet and social media wasn’t all-consuming, and things seemed easier, less competitive and more carefree.
But, in today’s fast-paced and technology-driven world, life is a little different for our kids. Not only is there more pressure to be and do more, but kids are getting influenced regularly both in-person and online. Helping children manage stress and develop emotional and behavioural regulation skills is more important than ever, and oftentimes, parents aren’t sure where to turn.
Fortunately, meditation and breathwork are effective and accessible tools that can support emotional and behavioural development — and all you need is a quiet space and some proven breathing techniques to help get you started.
What is Breathwork?
Breathwork involves conscious control and regulation of breathing patterns to promote physical and mental relaxation. It serves as a powerful tool for calming the mind, reducing anxiety, and enhancing emotional balance. For children, breathwork offers a gateway to self-awareness, providing them with a simple yet effective method to manage their emotions.
Learn more about breathwork in our free Mini-Course here.
How Breathwork Promotes Emotional Regulation in Kids:
The rhythmic breathing techniques in breathwork help activate the body’s relaxation response, and can reduce levels of stress. Practicing breathwork regularly can help kids navigate challenging situations with a greater sense of calmness.
By teaching kids to focus on their breath, breathwork improves their ability to concentrate and stay present. This skill is essential for longer attention spans, better performance in school and overall cognitive development.
Breathwork can encourage kids to connect with their emotions, allowing them to develop a deeper understanding of their feelings. This can help them express themselves effectively and manage their emotions in a healthy manner.
Benefits of Breathwork for Children
Many children struggle with sleep issues due to overstimulation or anxiety. Incorporating breathwork techniques, such as deep belly breathing, box breathing or guided meditations, before bedtime can promote relaxation and better sleep quality.
Breathwork serves as an excellent tool for reducing anxiety in children. By consciously regulating their breathing, kids can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, triggering a relaxation response that improves anxiety symptoms.
Practicing breathwork and meditation can help children develop a positive self-image and greater self-confidence. It teaches them that they have the power to regulate their own emotions, leading to improved self-esteem and emotional resilience.
Benefits of Mediation for Kids
Children as young as 2 or 3 years old can learn how to meditate! In fact, a regular meditation practice can enhance concentration and attention spans in children. It can also cultivate self-awareness, allowing kids to understand and express their emotions more effectively.
Meditation has been known to improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety in children. But remember to keep at it: consistency and establishing a daily meditation routine with your kids will contribute to its long-term benefits.
Getting Kids Started with Breathwork and Meditation:
Starting a breathwork or meditation practice with your kids doesn’t need to be complicated. Here are a few tips to get you started:
Try Guided Sessions:
Using guided meditation and breathwork sessions designed specifically for kids can make their practice more structured and enjoyable. Look for age-appropriate resources online that offer guided meditation sessions tailored to kids.
Make breathwork and meditation fun! Use visualizations, storytelling, or props to encourage their participation and create a sense of fun during the practice.
Establish a breathwork or meditation routine for your child. Encourage them to practice a few minutes each day, gradually increasing the duration as they become more comfortable. Consistency will help them integrate their new skills into their daily lives.
Breathing Techniques for Kids:
Just like any new skill, when introducing breathwork techniques to children, it’s important to keep it simple and age-appropriate. Here are some of the best breathwork techniques for kids to try:
- Belly Breathing: Have your child place one hand on their belly and breathe deeply, feeling their belly rise and fall with each breath. This technique promotes relaxation and helps calm the mind and body.
- Flower Breath: Encourage your child to imagine they are smelling a beautiful flower. Inhale deeply through the nose, imagining they are smelling the flower’s scent, and exhale gently through the mouth, as if blowing out a candle. This technique helps focus attention and brings a sense of calmness.
- Balloon Breath: Have your child imagine they are blowing up a balloon. Inhale deeply through the nose, expanding the belly, and exhale slowly through the mouth, pretending to blow air into an imaginary balloon. This technique helps release tension and promotes relaxation.
- Square Breathing: Guide your child to visualize drawing a square. Or, have them draw the square on their own arm or leg. Inhale deeply as they trace one side of the square, hold their breath as they trace the next side, exhale slowly as they trace the third side, and hold their breath again as they complete the square. This technique promotes focus, concentration, and a sense of balance.
- Rainbow Breath: Encourage your child to imagine breathing in different colours of the rainbow. Inhale a specific colour through the nose and exhale a different color through the mouth. This technique helps cultivate creativity, imagination, and a sense of joy.
Remember to make the breathwork sessions playful and interactive, and tailor the techniques to suit your child’s age, abilities, and interests. Most of all — have fun!
Is Breathwork Safe for Kids?
Because breathwork involves breathing at different rates and holding one’s breath, some parents may wonder if breathwork is safe for their children. The good news is that breathwork is generally safe for people of all ages, but it is important to consider the age and developmental stage of the child when introducing breathwork practices.
Some key points parents can to keep in mind when teaching breathwork to children include:
- Age Appropriateness: The type and complexity of breathwork techniques should be tailored to the child’s age and developmental level. Younger children may benefit from simple breathing exercises that focus on deep belly breathing, while older children can gradually be introduced to more structured techniques.
- Shorter Sessions: Children have shorter attention spans, so it’s best to keep breathwork sessions brief and concise. Starting with just a few minutes and gradually increasing the duration as their interest and ability to focus improve can be beneficial.
- Parental or Adult Supervision: It is recommended to have parental or adult supervision when teaching breathwork to children, especially younger ones. This ensures their safety, provides guidance, and creates a supportive environment for their practice.
- Positive Reinforcement: Encourage children by acknowledging their efforts and progress in their breathwork practice. Positive reinforcement can motivate them and make them more inclined to continue and explore further.
- Safe Environment: Create a safe and comfortable environment for children to practice breathwork. Choose a quiet space where they can relax and focus without distractions. Ensure they are in a physically safe position, such as sitting or lying down, and that they feel emotionally supported throughout the practice.
That said, if your child has specific health concerns, consult with their pediatrician or a healthcare professional to ensure that breathwork is right for them.
Both breathwork and meditation provide children with essential tools for emotional regulation and overall well-being. By incorporating these practices into their daily routine, parents can empower their children to navigate life’s challenges, foster emotional resilience, and cultivate a deeper sense of self-awareness.
Remember, breathwork is a simple yet profound practice that can positively impact a child’s mental, emotional, and physical health, setting them on a path towards lifelong well-being.
If you’re a breathwork facilitator or wellness practitioner looking to add breathwork into your offerings, click here to learn about our teacher training courses.