Breath play has many benefits for children

Teach your children breathing games to help with self-regulation, concentration, relaxation and stress management.

I remember my father getting after me to sit up straight and be conscious of my posture. When I was scared or nervous he would quietly tell me to sit up straight and take a few deep breaths to help quiet my nerves. To this day these techniques help me stay calm when feeling stressed. My father has passed on but he would have enjoyed learning about mindfulness breathing and how it has helped millions calm down and feel less stressed. Mindfulness is a practice of paying attention without judgment to the present moment. 

Teachers are starting to use mindfulness practices in classrooms. In the book “Breathe, Chill – A Handy Book of Games and Techniques Introducing Breathing, Meditation and Relaxation to Kids and Teens” by Lisa Roberts, it states that mindful breathing helps develop patience, coordination, focus, concentration, self -esteem, confidence, independence, self-regulation, teamwork and cooperation. 

The book is divided into three sections: breath play, breathing techniques and relaxation and meditation techniques. Breath play provides a series of fun activities and games for kids of all ages.  Breath play allows kids to see and feel their breath to generate an awareness of how their breath works in their own bodies. Through play, they discover that altering and controlling their breath can change and affect the way they feel.

Some examples of breath play are blowing bubbles, blowing on pinwheels and blowing bubbles in milk. These playful breath games are great visuals that allow kids to physically see what happens when you breathe differently. I remember when I was young I enjoyed controlling my breath so that the milk would not overflow the glass or cereal bowl when I would blow through a straw. If someone would have explained that this game could be used as a means of relaxation and a calming practice, I may have learned to manage my stressors at an earlier age.   

There are twenty-five breath play activities in the book that you can have kids of all ages practice. They are designed to be playful to bring out a child’s imagination and at the same time, release tension and physical and mental stress. The breath play centering and calming provides relaxation by encouraging full, deep breaths that calm the nervous system. 

These games are only games until you have an open discussion with kids about what they experienced. It is encouraged to have an open discussion allowing the children to explore and acknowledge any differences noticed in the way they breathed and how they felt in their minds and bodies after playing the games. If you purchase the book, it is recommended that you start slow when introducing the breathing activities and build upon the reps as their skill develops. 

Little did I know my dad was teaching me breathing techniques to help quiet my emotions. When was the last time you helped your child calm down? Why not add some breathing games into your play-time?   

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