The why of breathing is pretty clear, even the youngest of kids will tell you what happens if you stop.
But the how of breathing is really interesting. Knowing what goes on under the ribs and as a result of our breathing can really help kids to visualise the process and use it more effectively.
We breathe on average 12 times a minute and depending how long you're here for, about 450 million times in your life time.
The lungs don't actually breathe - the diaphragm does the work, your lungs are like bellows - oxygen is sucked in and carbon dioxide is pushed out. I describe the lungs to kids like trees. Starting with the trunk as the trachea, the big branches as the bronchial tubes, the smaller branches are the bronchi oles, the leaves are the alveoli and the veins in the leaf are the capillaries that switch the oxygen for the carbon dioxide. Simple, and they get it straight away. Kids love factual and straight forward explanations.
Most of us only use about 1/8th of our lungs actual capacity. We breath short shallow breaths that make our shoulders go up and down and not our bellys go in and out with a long deep breath.
Take a moment to think about how you are breathing, watch your child or sleeping baby.
Shallow breathing is what happens when we are in our "fight, fright or flight" mode - we are in a sympathetic nervous state and ready to run for our lives. Long slow breaths bring us into a para-sympathetic nervous state - calm and collected. This is the reason in an emergency a paramedic will tell you to take deep breaths and probably why you ask your child to take some deep breaths when they are crying so hard you can't understand what they are crying about.
Teaching your child to breathe better is pretty easy.
- bubble blowers
- pom pom ping pong (kids love this - You'll need a fluffy pom pom to blow back and forth across a table. Points scored by the other person if the pom pom is blown off the table - teaching them to control their breath. Can also be done on the floor, just no points scored.)
There are hundreds of Apps that might appeal to your kids as a self calming tool. I checked these out -
Settle Your Glitter
but nothing beats the fun stuff.
Lay down on the floor with your kids, put a favourite small toy on their belly and ask them to watch it go up and down as they breathe into their belly. A few minutes of that will show a marked calm come over them. Enjoy!
"A person's a person no matter how small" Dr Suess
Tracey is a knowledgeable yoga instructor and the children look forward to her regular visits. It's amazing to watch the children grow and learn the poses and strategies that she uses. The children are always excited to share what they have learnt and often transfer what they have done that day into other aspects of their play. Educators are using the calming strategies during the day.
Tracey, my daughter loves your yoga classes at day care. I have just watched her attempt to retell a story through yoga. Thoroughly cute! Thanks so much for your thought and effort.