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Stress Relief for Kids: Playful Breathing Exercises

Stress is all around us. It’s part of life, and we can’t escape it.

But there’s good news—for us and our kids.

We have immediate access to a powerful stress relief tool, something that’s always with us.

Our breath.

So why not make your breath the best it can be?

Stress Relief for Kids Tools

In this blog post, you’ll learn from a mindfulness expert:

  • Playful breathing exercises for kids of all ages—and the kid in all of us!
  • A guided mindfulness meditation to slow down your breath, body, and mind.

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

Meet Missy Brown, a pioneer in the field of yoga and mindfulness for children. She’s the author of “Breath Breaks with Missy,” an engaging, simple, joy-filled book with 46 breath breaks for stress relief.

Missy empowers children of all ages to discover their whole, perfect self through the practice of mindful play.

These practices can be life-changing.

“Let’s give our children tools to have an abundant life!”

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.

Playful Breathing Exercises for Stress Relief

These breathing exercises are located at the Deep Play for Kids website.

1. 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.

2. Balloon Breath

Balloon Breath breathing exercise directions for stress relief for kids

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.

3. Stop Sign

Stress relief for kids instructions to practice STOP mindfulness technique

4. Square Breath

Breathing exercise directions on the Square Breath for stress relief for kids

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.

Read below for Missy’s interview.

Which of Missy’s stress relief breathing exercises are your favorites? Do you have any of your own? Please share in the comments below.

If you liked these breathing exercises, you’ll enjoy other playful parenting ideas with Parenting—Let’s Make a Game of It. Learn playful ways to stop struggling with your child and start having more fun.

Mindful Breathing

Time is valuable, precious, and limited. Pause and spend 4-minutes with Missy as she guides you through a mindfulness meditation.

Click here to listen.

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.

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.

Mindfulness instructor with three kids doing exercise with legs and arms for stress relief for kids

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.

Group of colorful toes in circle touching for stress relief for kids

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.

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.

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. 

Photos courtesy of Missy Brown and Deep Play for Kids.

Which breathing exercise do you like best? What’s your advice for helping kids with stress relief? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Want to Make Parenting Easier?

Parenting is rewarding, but it’s also stressful, especially when your child doesn’t cooperate.

Here’s a secret for turning around these frustrating moments.

Create a playful game.

You’ll be amazed at the results.

Toddlers, school-age children, and even headstrong kids will cooperate—willingly!

I want to share this playful approach since it helped me as a stressed-out single parent.

It can help you too.

You’ll have more fun as a parent. You’ll empower your kids. And you’ll spend more quality time with your family.

Parents are busy and many don’t have time to read, that’s why I wrote an entertaining, easy-to-read book, Parenting—Let’s Make a Game of It. The light-hearted chapters are super short, and each one only takes 5-10 minutes.

Want a sneak peek? Go ahead and read a sample chapter. In a few minutes, you’ll gain new insights… and have a few laughs.

And the best news, you save with the Summer Special (only $4.99 for the eBook and $8.99 for the paperback). It’s as delicious as avocado toast but costs less… and the benefits last a lot longer.

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 stress relief for kids breathing exercises helpful. Here’s to empowering our children and teaching them coping skills. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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