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Calming Breathing for Children

July 23, 2020

Children don’t often have the skills or language to help themselves relax, especially when they are starting to feel stressed. This is why they look to the adults in their lives to help them.  

As parents and caregivers, we can offer children a safe place to express their anger, fear, or frustration. When we remain calm, they feel reassured and better able to return to their own place of calm.  

One strategy that we can use to help children learn to manage their feelings before they get upset is through a deep breathing exercise. Deep breathing can help children relax their bodies and minds during moments of stress and frustration or any time they need to wind down, like before bed.  

Choose a time to practise these techniques when your child is already feeling calm. Model it yourself, and then have your child do it with you. By practising before an upset occurs, your child will build the skills they need to use the techniques when their own stress mounts.  

These are some of our favourite calming breathing techniques! 

1. Smell the flower, blow out the candle

Pretending to do something they already understand can give your child a better sense of how to control their breathing. For this exercise, have your child pretend to hold a flower in one hand and a cupcake with a candle on it in the other hand. Then, walk them through smelling the flower and blowing out the candle.

2. The counting method

Breathing slowly is a way to mimic how our body acts when it is already calm, helping it to relax. Practice breathing slowly by having your child breathe in through their nose as you count 1, 2, 3, and breathe out through their mouth as you say A, B, C.

3. Belly breathing

Belly breathing is the deepest breath we can take and is a great way to reduce stress. To practice belly breathing, have your child lie down on their back with their hands on their tummy. Talk them through breathing in through their nose and out through their mouth. They should feel their hands move up and down with each breath.

Do you have more questions about your child’s behaviour? You can email us at any time at to ask us any questions you may have, get connected with an EarlyON Resource Consultant from Peel Children’s Centre, or just find a listening ear. Emails are not monitored 24/7, but we promise to get back to you.