Like adults, when children are emotionally feeling stressed or anxious they take quicker and more shallow breaths leading to over-breathing known as hyperventilating. Those symptoms are associated with panic attacks. Children can be fearful and anxious over many things, from first day at school, to seeing an oversized caricature of Mickey Mouse at Disneyland. Calm breathing is a technique that will help you as a parent or co-carer to help your child struggling with the sensations and feelings that come from their extreme worry. The results of using the Breathing Blue Balloon Technique will help them become more mindful of when they are feeling these urges again. The best way to teach your child how to master this technique is to create a space for them to listen to your voice and to follow what you say, even if at first, they don’t quite get it it’s okay they will eventually.
Here is what to do:
- Stand in front of your child so that they can mirror your actions and hear what you are saying.
- Take your child to a space that is calm for the two of you to teach the technique.
- Ask your child to close their eyes and place their hands on their belly.
- Now ask then to imagine a blue balloon inside their belly and that when they breath, to the count of your 1, 2, 3, they will inhale through their nose, visualizing pushing air through into the blue balloon in their tummy.
- If it helps, show them the image of Winnie The Pooh and the blue balloon.
- As you count to 4, 5, 6, explain to your child that is when they will exhale and breath out. Making a whooshing sound as they breath out. Almost like they are blowing the bees away as in the picture illustrated.
- It will be your job as the adult to make sure your child is doing it correctly if your child’s shoulders DO NOT RISE.
- Alternatively, your child can lay down with you and you can place a small cuddly toy on your child’s belly so they can see it rise as they inhale. That will give you both indication that the technique is being done correctly.
- This technique is one that should be adopted twice daily, before bed and in the morning just simply as practice. If the whole family are involved even better, day to day life can be very challenging so we should seek to use this tech not just for times that become overbearing but for maintaining better management for the stresses of everyday life.
NOTE: If you are a parent that works away from home, you could think about recording this for your child so that they have the calmness of listening to your voice as you walk them through the process with another adult. This can be very reassuring.
Copywritten by Jo Frost