09 February 2006

Deep breathing for preschoolers

Patrick is teaching his son to pause between emotion and reaction (something I'm still working on). Amazing how even little kids can start learning about self-control (some learn more quickly than others, of course).

I've been using a little trick to calm my 3 year-old son.  It's not much good if he's already reached the boiling point, but if he's just **approaching** it, it gives him a chance to cool off and bring it down a notch, before it gets into 'overload'.  I pull him aside, and just tell him to take a deep breath (I do it too), then we count to 10 together.   If there's something I want to tell him, I do it then, before letting him get back to whatever he was doing. I've been doing this for some time now, so now he almost knows what's coming.  Like anything else, repetition and consistency got me there I think.  Sometimes I can give him a look from across the room and he knows what he needs to do.

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I've been doing this with my 3yo for some time now. It works wonders. He's even begun doing it on his own without prompting from either his mother or me.

I've done this with my son for years (he's now nearly six). He has to take five deep breaths when he's upset, and usually it calms him down.

To help them learn how to take a deep breath, I started with my kids at only 9 months by "blowing out candles". The candles are my ten fingers, and I bend one down with each deep breath and turn blowing.

This is how I taught my oldest to take deep breaths -

I would take him into my lap so he was facing me with his legs on either side of me, chest to chest. I'd take exaggerated deep breaths so that he could FEEL me breathing. I'd rub his back up when we breathed in and down when we breathed out. We usually did sets of 3 breaths since he was 3 at the time we started it. To count, I usually would talk softly in his ear. I think this technique works great because, even if they are so upset that they can't hear you and focus on what you're saying, they can FEEL you do it and begin to do it with you.

We talked about being upset and feeling like you're going to blow up or boil over or like lots of bubbles are popping inside you.
We also talked about blowing out candles or blowing bubbles and how, once you took a deep breath, you could blow out hard like that to help yourself relax and get rid of the bad feelings.

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