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Four breathing exercises to try at home with your child

For each of these try and aim for at least 5 breaths in a practice session.

3-2-3 Breathing

In 3-2-3 breathing we are getting your child to breathe in (ideally through their nose) for 3 seconds, hold that breath for 2 seconds and then breathe out (ideally through their mouth) for 3 seconds.

These are the basics of calm breathing, and a great place to start.

Box Breathing

Building on 3-2-3 breathing, box breathing gets you to imagine, or actually draw a box, breathing in as you imagine drawing or actually draw one side of the box for 4 seconds, holding for 4 seconds as you draw the next side of the box, breathing out for 4 seconds as you draw the third side of the box, and finally holding for 4 seconds as you draw the final side of the box.

This is a great exercise for children who may like to doodle boxes as they practice their breathing, and a good one to practice in learning environments, like at school.

Take 5 Breathing

Using your pointer finger (or a feather, or a pencil, or similar), breathe in as you trace up each finger of your other hand, or someone else’s hand, hold at the top of the finger and breathe out as you trace down each finger, holding briefly at the bottom of each finger before continuing around to complete your whole hand.

This provides great sensory input and a physical reminder of slowing down. Practicing on each other’s hand (parent on child’s hand and vice versa) can be a great way to connect with your child and also help regulate the pace of breathing. This is a nice one to practice when waiting at the doctor, or when relaxing together on the couch.


Lion Breathing

A great breathing exercise for young kids is taking ‘lion’ or ‘tiger’ breaths. With this one, we want to get them to practice taking in a slow breath for 3 counts, and then doing a long, slow roar like a lion to act as a big release of the breath.

This can also be a great way to get angry feelings out.


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