As mentioned in a previous blog, breathing is the most basic way to help your child to learn to self-calm and relax (as well as yourself!). Sometimes breathing doesn’t work so well because our minds are still focused on all the negative thoughts running in our head (or as one parent mentioned “Stinkin’ Thinkin”). A child may need a more concrete and interesting way to practice or use breathing. These breathing strategies are entry levels to meditations and mindfulness. Help your child learn and practice this great tool for finding calm. You'll be happier (and calmer) you did.
Calm.com or Calm app (Free). This is a fantastic app/website that provides various nature and abstract scenes to focus on when breathing. It allows the mind to escape while also breathing to calm the body. When viewing the scenes, you can incorporate descriptions using senses as you and your child breathe. For example, I feel the wind on my face, the sand squishing in my toes, etc. You can use a timer and there are two free guided meditations to try out. Additional meditations are also available via in-app purchases.
Breathe2Relax app (Free). Rate your stress level before and after practicing breathing. Have a soothing scene in the background. Follow a moving bar as you breathe in and out, customizing the lengths of how long you inhale and exhale.
Sync Your Breathing to This. A great animated gif that uses visual and hearing senses to help keep focused on the breath.
Four Square Breathing. Trace a square, counting to 4 as you breathe in, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, hold for 4. Repeat. This offers a visual and concrete way to practice and distract the mind in order to focus on the breathing. Repeat at least 4 times since it is 4 square breathing :)
Infinity or Lazy 8 Breathing. Trace a figure 8, lying on its side, breathing in as you trace one side and breathing out as you trace the other side. Easy to follow and very portable as you can trace an imaginary lazy 8 with your finger on your desk, your hand, your thigh, wherever. Repeate 8 times since it's a lazy "8".
Turtle to Cat Stretch. Breathe in and out as you fold your body down into child’s pose – curled up like a turtle on your hands and knees with your head down. Take another breath or two in child’s pose. Breathe in and out as you rise up, unfold the body, and stretch hands and arms toward the sky – much like a cat stretching out all the way.
Angel Wings. Stand tall, with hands by your sides. Breathe in as you raise your arms up above the head so the hands touch at the top above your head. Breathe out as your arms gently lower back to your sides.
Hulk to Wet Spaghetti. Stand near a bed or soft chair. Squeeze all of your muscles tighter and tighter, just like the hulk. Then let all the tightness, anger (or other emotion) go at once and fall back into the chair or the bed.
Feel Better? Find your quiet, happy place and just breathe.