Easing Worries and Fears with Deep Breathing

It’s been a stressful time for you and for the families you are working with.  Here are some ideas from Maria Gehl at Zero to Three to use breathing practices with young children.  Says Maria “Sometimes, when we are feeling these added stresses and missing our usual supports, we are willing to try something new. If you haven’t considered your breath as a tool for finding some relief, you might try it now. It’s free, it’s always with you so you can use it any time, and it’s been proven to be a powerful way to ease anxiety and find calm. Studies have even shown that deep breathing can lower blood pressure, slow our heart rate, and lower the release of stress hormones.

Breathing practices are also simple enough to do with young children. When you breathe together, you are calming yourself and helping your child learn a way to find calm at the same time. It’s a win-win.

Breathe Like a Butterfly

  • Imagine being a beautiful butterfly stretching its wings. If you are doing this with a child, you can ask them what their butterfly wings look like.
  • Stand up straight with your arms resting along your sides and your hands at the belly. Take a moment to relax.
  • As you take a slow, deep breath into your belly, gently raise your arms up and out to the side, like a butterfly gently opening its wings.
  • As you exhale, gently float your arms back down to your side and return your hands to rest on the belly.
  • Continue taking long, slow breaths, moving your arms to match your breath. You can make your arm movements as big or small as feels comfortable for you. The important thing is to move along with your breath.
  • After a few minutes of breathing this way, allow yourself to rest and relax.
  • Notice what happens in your body and mind after breathing like a butterfly.

Additional breathing and relaxation exercises at the Zero To Three.

This article was contributed by Mary Perkins for the Early Childhood Express newsletter.