Deep breathing for kids
Regulating from the inside out
Respiration (Deep breathing) is a valuable tool that can be used to support regulation in children by:
- Regulating our heart rate and calming the body’s systems
- Supporting attention and focus.
To help our body regulate, our breathing should be:
- Initiated from the diaphragm
- Have a regular rhythm (long inhale, long exhale – not shallow, or rapid)
- Flexible and adaptable (adjusts to suit our body’s movement e.g. rate increases with physical activity)
- An effortless process!
Children with sensory processing difficulties often demonstrate characteristics which compromise posture and breathing patterns, and thus impact on ability to regulate their arousal states.
Strategies to support efficient breathing patterns include:
Positioning (ideally using extremities in weight bearing positions e.g. in crawling position, with good postural alignment), Extending the exhale (to increase the inhale e.g. humming contests).
Activation of the diaphragm (place hand over the diaphragm while inhaling/exhaling), Incorporating activities into your child’s day that reinforce efficient breathing can improve regulation and attention to task.
The following are some ideas:
- Blowing a ping pong ball or cotton wool ball through a ‘maze’ while crawling on hands and knees
- And Blowing bubbles and popping them whilst seated upright on a gym ball
- Respiration toys (e.g. Kazoos, pinwheels, crazy straws)
- Use torn up tissues or feathers – try blowing them along the floor or blow them from your hand into the air, try and keep them from touching the ground.
- Drinking straws or crazy/curly straws = blow bubbles in the bath or a tray of water with liquid soap (just don’t suck or drink the bubbly water!)
- While laying on your tummy, use a party blower to knock down small figures lined up along the floor.