Teaching mindful breathing using shapes is a fun and playful activity, that can help children to relax, practice an easy mindfulness technique and learn to manage their emotions. Once they get the hang of it they’ll be spotting shapes and opportunities to practice taking a calming breath all over the place.
Why use shapes to teach mindful breathing to kids?
When we are beginning to learn how to use our breath as a calming strategy, using something as a visual queue is a great way to start. The benefits to using shapes are:
- Shapes are something that kids of all ages will be familiar with
- Shapes are often used in stories or can be found around the house
- Children will have lots of shape based toys that could be used
- Shapes are a simple and grounding way to start using our breath
- Shapes come in lots of fun variations
Once kids get into the habit of using the shapes with guidance, they can then learn to use the shapes as a guide by themselves. Once confident they can get creative and find shapes around the house and outdoors, find them in stories and even just trace the shapes in the air or in sand as they practice their breathing.
Pin Teaching Mindful Breathing using Shapes for Later!
Lets Get in Shape!
Now for the fun part – Practicing Shape Breaths with your Kids
By teaching and modelling using shape breaths with our kids we are helping them to develop strategies for self-regulation. Self regulation is the ability to lessen the intensity of impulses, whether its a feeling of anger or a reactive behaviour, mindful breathing can hep us to be in the present, notice what is going on and give us space to make a choice.
Below you’ll find several shape breathing activities to try, this is the fun part, finding out what shapes are your favourites.
- Star Breaths
- Square Breaths
- Triangle Breaths
- Lazy Eight Breaths
1. Star Breaths
What are Star Breaths?
Star Breaths are a fun, calming activity that helps to teach children how to control their breathing pattern by using touch, combined with a visual aid.
1) When you begin your Star Breaths, you can start at any point on the star.
2) Start by tracing your finger down one edge and breathe in.
3) Pause when your finger reaches the end.
4) Then Breathe out as you trace your finger up the other side to the next point.
5) Keep going until you end up where you started.
2. Square Breaths
What are Square Breaths?
Square Breaths (or as we call them gift breaths) are a lovely way to practice being in the present (that’s why we call them gift breaths), relaxing our bodies and minds and getting the opportunity to take a moment and practice gratitude for all the gifts we already have.
1) Start by thinking about something that is a gift for you.
2) gently inhale and trace your finger along one side of the gift.
3) Hold at the top the breath and trace along the next side.
4)Then gently exhale through your mouth and trace the next side.
5) At the bottom of the breath, hold and trace the final side of the gift
3. Triangle Breaths
Breathe like a tree!
Christmas tree breaths (aka triangle breaths) is a great shape breathing activity to teach children breath awareness and being present. In this exercise you can practice tracing the shape of the tree with your finger, whilst breathing in and out, with a reminder to think of something that you are good at when you land on the star at the end.
1) Start at the star on top of the tree. Breathe in for three counts as you trace the first side of the triangle.
2) Hold your breath for three counts as you trace the bottom of the tree.
3) Breathe out for three counts as you trace the final side of the tree and finish on the star.
4) Think of something that you are good at or enjoy doing.
4. Lazy 8 Breaths aka Race Track Breaths
Race Track Breaths or Lazy 8 Breaths as they are also known, is a soothing, shape breathing technique. This mindful breathing activity, is also a cross lateral exercise that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain helping to calm and focus. This is a versatile exercise, you can practice with toy cars or your fingers on the track and also once you have practiced, the shape can be traced in the air with your finger.
1) Starting in the middle of the track, slowly trace your finger round to one side, as you do this, Breathe in.
2) Then trace your finger round to the other side of the track and slowly breathe out.
3) Now try this again, but tracing the track in the air in front of you with your arm out straight.
Lets Talk Well Being Skills
Using our breath is a great way to relax or minds and bodies. Taking a deep breath triggers the relaxation response, lowering our heart rate, blood pressure and relieving stress. Children all start life breathing big deep belly breaths, by practicing breathwork early on with children this simple tool can remain a life long life skill.
Taking conscious breaths is also an anchor for us to be in the present, meaning that we are not in our heads thinking about the future or the past. The more mindful moments our kids take the more they are practicing shifting their focus to the what is happening in the present and paying attention to what is going on both inside them and outside in their world.
Executive Functioning Skills – Response Inhibition
Breathing exercises are a strategy to help children develop the executive functioning skill of response inhibition, which is one of the most important skills we can learn.
Like any healthy habit the more you practice, the more it becomes an everyday, natural response. By using our breathing activity packs, you can make teaching these activities to your kids even more fun with posters, rhymes and creative activities.
I’d love to hear if you try out the activity 🙂 Take Care
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