Breathing exercises are a great way to introduce very young children to mindfulness practice. Give one of these three breathing exercises a try with your toddler or preschooler.
1. Breathe with a Pinwheel
First, grab two pinwheels—one for yourself and one for your child. Next, follow these five steps:
- Sit with your backs straight and your bodies relaxed.
- Blow on your pinwheels together using long, deep breaths. Notice how you feel—calm and relaxed? Having trouble sitting still?
- Next, blow on your pinwheels with short, quick breaths. Notice how you feel again—do you feel the same as you did when using long, deep breaths?
- Blow on the pinwheels as you normally would. Again, notice how you feel.
- Think about the different types of breathing you engaged in, and discuss how the different breaths made you feel (Gelles, n.d.).
2. Square Breath
A square breath is a breath that is even on all sides, and it can be useful as a mindfulness exercise for both you and your child.
Here’s what to do:
- Breathe in, to the count of four.
- Hold the breath for four seconds.
- Breathe out to the count of four.
- Wait for four seconds before taking in your next breath.
To help your child keep track, show them how to draw a square in the air with their finger, taking four seconds on each side (Roman, n.d.).
3. Darth Vader Breath
This fun breathing exercise will keep your child engaged and interested.
Follow these steps to give it a try:
- Breathe in deeply through your nose.
- Keep your mouth closed and exhale from the back of your throat, making a “Darth Vader”-style noise as you do.
- Show your child how to do it, then practice it with them.
This simple exercise will help your child focus on their breath and stay fully anchored in the present (Roman, n.d.).
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