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Playful Breathing Exercises for Kids

Wouldn’t you love to give your child a superpower to deal with stress? Good news, your child is born with a superpower—their breath. Now you can empower them with playful breathing exercises created especially for kids.

When your child is feeling happy, sad, or anxious, it is reflected in their breath. Our breath is always with us, so let’s make it the best it can be.

“In case of an emergency. stop, drop and roll… and take a breath!”
—Missy Brown

Missy Brown for stress relief with kidsMeet Missy Brown, a pioneer in the field of yoga and mindfulness for children. Missy empowers children of all ages to discover their whole, perfect self through the practice of mindful play. These practices can be life-changing. In this post, she’s excited to share some playful breathing exercises.

After teaching preschool for many years, Missy founded Deep Play for Kids, LLC, a school that certifies others to share these essential kid-friendly mindfulness practices. She has trained more than 500 professionals who have taught this practice to thousands of children.

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4 Playful Breathing Exercises for Kids

Missy is the author of “Breath Breaks with Missy,” an engaging, simple, joy-filled book with 46 breath breaks for stress relief. The following breathing exercises are located at the Deep Play for Kids website. They’re for kids of all ages—and the kid in all of us.

1. Bear Breath

playful breathing exercise for kids- hibernating bear breath

Breathe your way to quiet like a hibernating bear. This is an opportunity to go inside, find connection, quiet and calm.

Open your palms ~ These are the caves.

Tuck in your thumbs ~ These are the bears going inside.

Gently wrap your other 4 fingers around the ‘bears’ ~ making a soft fist.

Place your resting bears on your lap.

Invite the bears to take a rest with some slow breaths in and some long breaths out, slow breaths in and long breaths out.

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2. Balloon Breath

playful breathing exercise for kids-balloon breath

Find a comfortable way to sit or lay down.

Imagine there is a balloon in your belly. It can be any color you choose.

Place your hands gently on your belly and as you take a breath in, feel your belly get big like blowing up a balloon. As you let your breath go, feel your belly come back like deflating a balloon.

Repeat this a few times and if you would like, try closing your eyes while you practice it.

You can place a secret love message into your balloon and with your breath, imagine those thoughts being sent all over the world! These balloons can be colored for added relaxation.

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3. Stop Sign

4. Square Breath

playful breathing exercise for kids- Square Breath

Place your tracing finger on a square.

Begin in the lower-left corner of “this square” or this can also be done on a piece of paper, a book, a desk, a paint sample square or an imaginary square-shaped item on your lap or in the palm of your hand.

Doing this slowly, breathe in as you trace up to the top left corner, breathe out as you trace across from top left to top right, breathe in as you trace from top right to the bottom right, breathe again as you trace back from the bottom right to bottom left where you started.

This can also be done as a soft pause and gentle breath retention by tracing up on an inhale, pause and gently hold your breath as you trace across from the top left to the top right, breath out as you trace from the top right to the bottom right, pause again as you trace back from bottom right to bottom left.

Related Post: Parenting Tips How to Be a Fun Mom and Playful Parent—in Less Than a Minute (Like Mary Poppins!)

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Mindful Breathing Meditation

Pause and spend 4-minutes to slow down your breath, body, and mind. Click here to listen to Missy’s calming mindfulness meditation.

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An Interview with Missy Brown

This is part of my “Tips from the Pros” series, where I interview professionals who work with children. You’ll benefit from their years of experience as they share helpful advice.

Woman Missy Brown teaches breathing exercises for kids

Why Should We Teach Kids Stress Relief Techniques?

Anxiety and stress in children are reaching epidemic levels. Academic pressures and life expectations are compromising emotional well-being. Overall wellness and academic health cannot thrive if emotional, psychological, and mental health is not intact.

Time is overfilled, lives are overfilled, to-do lists are overfilled. The opportunity to be, play, wonder, and internally explore are highly at risk.

Not long ago, TV was a distraction however it could be turned off. Now we take ‘that’ with us to our desks, our kitchens, our nightstands, into our pockets, our bags, and backpacks, on our wrists. Our brains, and more so children’s brains, are constantly being remodeled. The brain best focuses on one complex task at a time.

Mindfulness and presence are a must for mental health and wellness to thrive. Happiness and connection are our birthrights. We need tools for navigating life.

What is Your Mission?

I am devoted to help others and feel deeply honored to have the privilege of sharing these practices. I’m passionately committed as they have changed my life, my children’s lives, and I truly believe they have the possibility to change the lives of many generations.

One child at a time, one breath at a time. Let’s give our children tools to have an abundant life.

To intimately participate, wholeheartedly, to live with fortitude, radiantly, radically, authentically, perfect as a whole as they are. The fierce urgency of now calls us.

Tell Us About Deep Play for Kids

Deep Play for Kids offers a safe opportunity to reconnect through play. All Deep Play for Kids programming is created to best support the population being served.
Classes, private sessions, training, and programs provide a methodology and practical application of research-based yoga, creative movement, mindfulness, breathing techniques, and meditation for personal use as well as to share with children.

Deep Play for Kids includes the FUNdamentals of developing tools and strategies in an interactive and educational way. We offer Professional Development Programs, Teacher Certifications, Yoga Trainings, Immersions for Kids, Children’s Camps and Classes, Parenting Workshops, Mindful In School Foundations, Creative Curriculum Implementation, Private in Person Session, Virtual Session, and more.

feet in circle as part of playful breathing exercise for kids

Tell Us About Yourself

I am a proud momma of three amazing sons and two delicious granddaughters, and I live in Connecticut with my beloved partner, Joe, and our four-legged furry animals. Prior to starting Deep Play for Kids, I worked in a pre-school for many years, seeing each child as their true self. I saw that children who participate in wellness experiences at an early age are given the opportunity to create a solid foundation and fill their “toolbags” to carry throughout their lives.

For many years, I had a children’s center in Westport, Connecticut where I offered kids classes in yoga, dance, movement, art, and science. In addition, the center offered a yearly summer camp, and kids and family cooking classes. Parenting groups, private sessions, and family options were also included.

Deep Play for Kids has been cultivated and created from my life’s curriculum and now has become my mission to share what has been gifted to me. I’ve been teaching Deep Play for Kids in schools for nearly 20 years.

Missy Brown with two people

Do You Also Teach Yoga?

Yes, I’m on the faculty at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, North America’s largest residential facility for holistic health and education.  Additionally, I’m a teacher in the Pranotthan School of Yoga, Assistant Director for Let Your Yoga Dance Trainings and have co-created “Learn to Teach Let Your Yoga Dance to Kids and Teens.” As a Yoga Alliance Continuing Education Provider, I hold numerous and diverse certifications in the fields of mindfulness, wellness, yoga, and meditation.

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How to Make Parenting Easier and More Fun

Even without dragging kids on an airplane, parenting can be stressful. With ongoing power struggles and never-ending issues, it’s a lot of hard work. That’s for sure!

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

I’m Karen, a mom with two grown kids as well as a marketing consultant in K-12 Education Technology. My parents used a playful approach and created games to turn everyday frustrating moments into family fun. When I became a parent, I experienced firsthand the benefits of this positive, playful approach.

By creating games to deal with challenging situations, you avoid confrontations, end arguments, encourage cooperation, and even get kids to help around the house. Goodbye nagging, yelling, tears, and those annoying power struggles.

This playful approach makes parenting more fun, empowers kids, and connects family. 

It helped me as a stressed-out parent, so I want to share it with you. And what better way than playfully!

Introducing “Parenting—Let’s Make a Game of It”

Parenting—Let’s Make a Game of It is an entertaining, easy to read book where the lessons are told through whimsical stories. Perfect for busy parents, you can read a standalone, light-hearted story in only 5-10 minutes. It’s similar to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

An Amazon #1 New Release in 7 parenting categories, this book shows how to put the fun in parenting.

Whimsical and Humorous
Because life is serious enough

Lessons Told Through Stories
It entertains and inspires

Easy and Quick to Read
Because parents are VERY busy

“Let’s-Be-Real” Tone
We’ve all been there

Organized by Challenges
So it’s easy to flip through

Check out the glowing 5-star reviews on Amazon.

★★★★★ A fun, positive and creative way to parent – must read!”

★★★★★ Great book and easy to implement!”

★★★★★“Insightful parenting techniques for challenging moments.”

★★★★★ “Delightful short stories that inspire creative parenting.”

Take a peek and look inside to read snippets and see the table of contents.

If you’re interested, you can find my book in these online stores ($9.99 for the paperback and $7.99 for the eBook):

Amazon (paperback and eBook)

Kobo (eBook)

“This delightful, whimsical book is a fun, easy-to-read treasure. It is playfully and powerfully presented for most anyone who has children in their lives. I am excited to pass this on to parents and educators who will benefit from its wisdom.” —Missy Brown, founder of Deep Play for Kids

“The author gives you a ton of new strategies, and she writes in a fun way that keeps you turning pages, not the dull, academic style of many other parenting books. I cannot recommend this enough!” –Tracey Price, parent

Heidi Smith Hyde on how to build self-confidence in a child“This should be required reading for all new (and not so new) parents. Author Karen Thurm Safran provides loving anecdotes filled with whimsy and humor, all designed to empower parents as they struggle with mealtime, bedtime, car trips, and more. It’s all about having a positive, can-do attitude.” –Heidi Smith Hyde, parent and director of education

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Posted in Parenting Tips


  1. Amanda

    I put my daughter’s favorite stuffed animal on her tummy and have her watch it go up and down with each breath. Once she gets the concept, I take her teddy bear off and have her practice deep breathing. I’m a big believer of mindfulness. These are great breathing exercises! I look forward to trying them.

    • Karen

      I love your teddy-bear-on-the-tummy idea! Thanks for sharing it. I too am a big advocate of Mindfulness, and it’s wonderful that you’re teaching it to your daughter.

  2. Jennifer

    Great tips! My son is very anxious and I’m always looking for effective ways to help him de-stress. I’m excited to try the hibernating bear technique. Thanks!

    • Karen

      Hi Jennifer, I totally get it. It’s so hard seeing our children be anxious and upset. I’m glad that you found Missy’s breathing exercises for kids helpful. Here’s to empowering our children and teaching them coping skills. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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