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Breathing & Relaxing Exercises for Kids

by Shelley Frost, studioD

She doesn't balance the family budget, juggle schedules or handle upkeep of the house, but your child likely feels stress. Sources of stress for kids include schoolwork, parent conflict, negative news events and illness, according to KidsHealth. You can't always eliminate your child's stress, but you can help her deal with it using breathing and relaxation techniques.

Blowing Exercises

Breathing deeply takes practice for some kids. Activities that involve blowing encourage kids to take a big breath and blow out all of the air. This action of inhaling and exhaling has a relaxing effect. A pinwheel is a simple toy that shows the effect of breathing. Have your child inhale and blow out the air toward the pinwheel. A long, steady breath keeps the pinwheel spinning. Fast, short exhales make the pinwheel move quickly but only for a short time. Encourage your child to make the pinwheel spin as long as possible. Bubble blowing is another activity many kids already enjoy. Your child learns how to control her breathing with the bubbles. If she blows hard and fast, the bubbles will either be small or won't fully form before popping. Slower, controlled blowing creates a larger bubble.

Visualization Activities

Imagining a calm, relaxing or enjoyable scene helps your child calm down and feel less stress. Kids often need guidance when they first begin using visualization. Have your child get in a comfortable position with her eyes closed. Say "Pretend you are in a magical land where the entire ground is made from giant, bouncy pillows. Can you feel yourself bouncing up and down on the soft pillows? How does it feel? What do you see?" Use your child's interests to guide her into imagining a relaxing scene.

Muscle Relaxation

Stress often causes tight muscles, so a muscle relaxation activity is often helpful in easing the effects of stress. The basic idea behind progressive muscle relaxation is to tense a specific group of muscles and then relax it completely. You can start either at the head or at the toes. Your child may need help figure out how to tense a certain part of her body and then relax it. Talk her through the process to make it easier. Say "Pretend a big bunch of mosquitoes just landed on your head. Wrinkle up your head to get the mosquitoes off. Good! Now they're gone. Relax your head now that those pesky bugs are gone." For hands, say "Here comes a wiggly snake. Grab him with your hands and hold him tight so he doesn't get away. Here's his home. Let the snake go so he can wiggle home to his family. Relax your hands."


Yoga helps kids improve body awareness and self-esteem, in addition to reducing the stresses of life, according to Yoga Journal. Many yoga studios offer kids' classes or parent/child classes, but you can teach basic poses, such as tree, warrior and downward dog, at home. You can make up your own moves or explain traditional yoga poses in a way that is kid-friendly. For example, introduce the tree pose by saying "Let's pretend we're tall, strong trees. Pretend your feet are the roots going deep into the ground. Do you feel the breeze blowing through your branches?" Be sure to consult your child's physician before implementing an exercise program for your child.

About the Author

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience come from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.

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