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!”
Meet 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.
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
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
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
4. 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.
Read below for Missy’s interview.
Do you have any special breathing exercises? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
You can also keep your child calm and centered by parenting playfully. Want to learn a fun way to empower your child and make parenting easier?
Bonus: 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.
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.
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.
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.
Let’s Make Parenting Easier
Parenting is rewarding, but it’s also stressful, especially when your child doesn’t cooperate.
Learn the secret for turning around these frustrating moments. You’ll have more fun as a parent. You’ll empower your kids. And you’ll spend more quality time with your family.
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