Resource

Easing Worries and Fears with Deep Breathing

May 13, 2020

Breathing practices are 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.

Iryna Inshyna | Shutterstock

It’s hard not to feel a constant state of underlying anxiety and worry these days. As parents, we are concerned for our families’ well-being, managing the stress of new routines and wondering how long this will last and what comes next. These are real concerns and they weigh heavily on all of us, affecting our mental health and our ability to be the responsive, warm parents we all want to be. So, what can we do?

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.

Try the exercise below and explore other breathing resources on our website here and here.

Breathe Like a Butterfly

  • We are going to imagine being a beautiful butterfly stretching its wings. If you are doing this with your 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.


About Baby Steps

This article was featured in Baby Steps, a ZERO TO THREE newsletter for parents and caregivers. Each issue offers science-based information on a topic of interest to parents and caregivers of young children—from sleep to challenging behaviors, and everything in between.

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  • Author

    Maria Gehl

    Project Director, Mindfulness in Early Childhood