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Breathing and Stress: Children

Dr. Russell H. GreenfieldYoung children don’t have to worry about paying bills, keeping a job and feeding a family, it’s true, but they have their own unique sources of stress that typically include peer pressure and school. Children often internalize feelings they don’t fully understand, or develop unexplained symptoms like tummy aches or sleeplessness. Let children know that everyone experiences stress, and that the key to maintaining balance is a consistent practice of healthy stress management.

Children can learn relaxed breathing exercises, too! Here are 2 examples of easy relaxing breath techniques appropriate for your children, whether they’re toddlers or in high school:

THE HAMSTER BREATH
Have your youngster take 3 quick breaths in through their nose, then breath out slowly through their mouth. As they breathe in their nostrils will collapse inward, which may remind them of a hamster, or even a bunny rabbit. They can even do this exercise in front of a mirror, which often elicits a giggle. Repeat the "3 breaths in, then exhale" cycle 4 times, and repeat as necessary after a 5 minute break.

2-1 BREATHING
If we were to count as we breathe, most of us would start with the number 1 as we inhale, then proceed on to number 2 with exhalation. Now have your youngster try it, but instead counting 1 as they exhale and 2 as they inhale. It takes a little more concentration to do right. Whether through added attention to their breath, or simply as a result of deep breathing, this simple exercise can help relieve daily sources of anxiety (like a test in school, the piano recital, or coming up to bat with the bases loaded). and it can be done without anyone knowing.