Balloon Breaths is a mindful breathing exercise for children, that allows kids to practice focus and deep breathing. Balloon breathing not only can help us to feel calm, but it fills our body with energising oxygen. It can help promote restful sleep and help us to learn to notice and manage our emotions.
Pin Balloon Breaths Mindful Breathing for Later
Please be aware that this post contains some affiliate links. These are products and services that I truly love and using the link brings no extra cost to you and helps fund Calm Ahoy Kids. Thank you.
Sign up and get Balloon Breaths plus 2 other mindful breathing activity kits for kids for free.
In this free printable I have included a balloon breaths poster, flash card, rhyme, mindful colouring page and quote. I’ve also included a full script to help parents and teachers introduce the activity and a short lesson guide. Giving you everything you need to teach and practice this calming coping strategy for kids.
What is Balloon Breathing?
Balloon breaths is a fun themed deep breathing aka belly breathing exercise. The idea of the exercise is for children to use their imaginations to help them visualise a balloon in their bellies. When they are able to imagine the balloon in their belly, then it easier for them to focus their attention on directing the air they inhale deeper and breathing in fuller. Imaging that you are inflating a brightly coloured balloon also makes the breathing exercise playful and fun.
What the Difference between Deep, Belly and Diaphragmatic Breathing?
Deep Breathing is the opposite to shallow breathing, shallow breaths are breaths that we feel in our chest area. When we breathe deeply, we direct our breath deep into our bellies, which is actually the bottom of our lungs, but feels like our bellies, so is often called Belly Breathing. In between the bottom of our lungs and the top of our bellies is a muscle called the Diaphragm. When we practice Diaphragmatic Breathing the muscle flattens when we inhale and relaxes when we exhale.
So regardless of whether the breathing technique is called deep, belly, diaphragmatic or balloon breathing, the aim is to use the diaphragm muscle when we breath.
What are the Benefits of Diaphragmatic Breathing?
Using Diaphragmatic aka Balloon Breaths sends a signal to our brain via the Vagus nerve that our body is safe by triggering the relaxation response and lowering the stress response. This can be a really helpful way for us to cope with and manage stress and anxiety. Below is a child friendly video explaining the very important vagus nerve.
How to Introduce Balloon Breathing
Below you will also find a detailed script on how to initially introduce Balloon breaths to children. I hope that this will be a useful activity for you to use with your own children at home or in a school classroom. When I teach this activity I first introduce the Balloon Breaths rhyme below.
Mindful Breathing Script for Parents and Teachers
“We are going to try a fun activity called Balloon Breaths, we are going to use our breath to fill our bellies and expand them like a balloon.”
Spark the Imagination:
“Imagine that you are holding a brightly coloured balloon between your hands, as it fills with air your hands expand and as the air deflates from the balloon your hands get closer, that’s how our bellies will feel.” (You can model expanding and decreasing the imaginary balloon between your hands or use a Hoberman sphere if you have one available.)
“Now let me show you first, I relax my shoulders and sit up tall, put my hand on my belly and take a big breath in, I can feel my belly getting bigger and slowly as I breathe out the balloon is deflates.”
1) Wiggle your shoulders and Sit up tall. pop your hand on your belly.
2) Imagine that your belly is a balloon. Take in a slow, deep breath and imagine filling up the balloon.
3) Then exhale slowly, deflating the balloon in your belly.
4) Let’s try that again, but this time if you feel comfortable you can close your eyes. Really focus on filling your belly with air and noticing the belly getting bigger.
5) As you exhale, imagine the balloon slowly floating away high up into the sky.
Discuss the Balloon Breaths Activity
- Invite children to describe how they felt afterwards.
- Could they feel their belly get bigger? How could they tell?
- What colour would their balloons be?
- What would it be like to float like a balloon? *share the quote below
How is Breathing being Mindful?
Mindful breathing is also a really handy tool for children, as you can do it anywhere, even in the hardest situation. You don’t need to sit down and close your eyes for five minutes, it can just be one or two breathes. You can practice without drawing attention to your self or causing any embarrassment, whether its anxiety before a test or dealing with hard feelings from not being picked in a sports team, the breath is always there to help bring some calm in these situations.
The key to incorporating mindful breathing into your life is to remember. Try adding themed activities to the breathing exercise to really build the practice in to your child’s memory.
Benefits of Mindful Breathing
- When we breathe more mindfully and stay connected to the present moment, we release endorphins, chemicals that have a calming effect.
- Mindful breathing improves our immune systems.
- Mindful breathing lowers our blood pressure and our heart rate.
- Mindful breathing helps us to cope with the stress by activating the vagus nerve, which calms the stress response
- Mindful breathing can reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Mindful breathing can increase our empathy and compassion both for others and ourselves
Mindful breathing supports us mentally, emotionally and physically and is a very simple, free and effective tool.
Evidence That It Work – While research on the effects of mindfulness on children is still in the early stages, a 2016 review of 12 studies suggests some promising outcomes for young children relative to attention, self-regulation, and motor skills. https://ggie.berkeley.edu/
Fun activities to extend the Balloon Breathing activity and make belly breathing a healthy, daily habit.
- Handout a colouring sheet to each child. Ask children to pay attention as they choose the colours for their balloons.
- Make DIY sensory balloon eggs / stress balls
- End the session with a balloon themed story and practice balloon breaths during the story.
- Play balloon volleyball. Get children to practice mindful movement and slowly hit the balloon in the air, trying to keep it from touching the floor.
- Use a card deck and props – I absolutely love this set from IMYOGI
Try out lots of breathing activities!
There are many types of breathing exercise and techniques, so its a good idea to try and practice a few different breathing exercises with your child. Once they find a few that they like, its easier to incorporate them in to every day life. The idea is that taking a mindful, deep breath becomes as habitual as brushing our teeth or riding a bike. It takes practice, but it can become a healthy, natural response to dealing with stressors.
I hope you enjoy this activity. Thanks Emma x