Learning to manage stress has been critical to my ability to run a business from home while meeting the various needs of my five children at whatever stage they are in. When it comes to minimizing stress and calming the body, breathing techniques can be very effective. The same techniques I used to calm myself when my daughter called to tell me an 18-wheeler just ran her off the road or my son called to tell me he was deploying to the Middle East work wonders on my teenage son who has Asperger’s and needs to calm down after a chaotic day at school as well as for my 10-year old daughter for whom everything is a catastrophe on some days.
Your lungs do more than help deliver oxygen and remove carbon dioxide. Taking in a deep breath triggers physiological reactions that relax the body. Doing so also has a scientifically proven effect on the heart, brain, immune system, and digestive system. I’ve been using breathing exercises with my kids since they were little. Now the kids automatically, without even realizing they are doing it, take a deep, calming breath whenever they get upset or stressed. These two breathing techniques are my favorite for kids:
In with the Good, Out with the Bad
Whether a child is stressed about a school assignment, a bully, or a bad day, teaching him to let go of it by breathing it out can give him a stress management technique that will last a lifetime. Sit across from your child and hold his hands. Look into his eyes, and demonstrate taking a deep breath, then blowing it out. Encourage your child to take the next deep breath with you and then blow out whatever bad stuff is bothering him.
Not only will the physical act of focusing on breathing serve to calm your child, but the physiological response of his body from the deep breathing will serve to lessen the actual stress he is feeling. This is an ideal exercise for the child who tends to throw temper tantrums.
When a child is too excited, from being either overstimulated or very tired, breathing can work well to calm him. Sit cuddled next to your child in bed or on a couch and show your child how to take a deep, slow breath. Inhale slowly and exhale slowly, as if you’re trying to breath carefully enough not to rock a boat on a calm lake. Focus on stillness and quiet. Neither of you should be distracted by electronics, TV, or any noise other than soft music. This is an ideal exercise to practice at bedtime.
Breathing techniques can work both for your kids and for you when you need to reign in the chaos that is sometimes the life of a parent. It only takes a few breaths to make a big difference.
What techniques do you use to help calm and de-stress your kids?