Magical Mindful Moments

Introduction to Mindfulness

EASY Mindfulness & Breathing Exercises to Find the Calm & Work Through Big Emotions

When we give children the tools to be with their emotions and work through their strong emotions (instead of denying, avoiding, or being overtaken by emotions), we give them a gift that will last a lifetime.

When we give children the TOOLS to BE WITH their emotions and WORK THROUGH

their strong EMOTIONS (instead of denying, avoiding, or being overtaken by emotions),

we give them a GIFT that will last a LIFETIME.

In life, we all will face difficulties and experience emotions. Feelings live inside our bodies and create sensations that we experience (e.g. When we’re angry, we may feel tense, and our faces might get red and hot). Some emotions feel good while others may not feel so great. All emotions are ok though, even the uncomfortable ones. Deep breathing and mindfulness exercises can help us be with and work through our emotions.

Sometimes emotions can overwhelm us. When we get overwhelmed, we have to calm our nervous system down to help us think more clearly and logically before we can work through a situation. Both deep breathing and mindfulness exercises can help us find the calm as they can teach us to refocus on the present moment by paying attention to what’s happening now with our body, breathing, and environment. Mindfulness helps our brains and bodies to refocus, helps soothe and calm feelings of worry and anxiety, and helps us to be more proactive when responding to stress.

Mindfulness is an important tool in building resilience. Resilience is the ability to adapt or recover from stress, challenges, adversity, or life changes and bounce back even stronger. By being mindful of what’s happening in our body, with our breathing, and in our surroundings, we can be with and work through emotions, control how we respond to stressors, experience calm, and build resilience. Being able to cope and work through big feelings while building resiliency is an essential life skill that helps us all to live more joyful, fulfilling lives.

Demonstrate these deep breathing and mindfulness exercises below, and try them with your child. Practice them when they are calm as well as when they have big feelings to help relieve stress and tension and calm the breath, body, and mind. Try different exercises to see what works best for you and your child! Repeat as many times as needed to bring about a sense of calm.

For additional steps to work through emotions, check out the book, Eli Elephant Works Through Emotions.

Make Orange Juice or Lemonade

Help guide your child to make pretend OJ or Lemonade. Switch oranges for lemons if making lemonade.

  • “Imagine you are standing under an orange tree. How big is the tree?”
  • “Now stretch both of your hands way up in the air, and pretend you are picking some oranges.”
  • “Now reach down low, and place the oranges in a bucket.”
  • “Now make some orange juice by making tight fists and squeezing the imaginary oranges really hard.”
  • “Now throw the used pretend oranges on the ground, and take a break as you relax your hands.”
  • “Keep squeezing oranges until you have enough oranges for your glass of orange juice.”
  • “Now take a sip of your orange juice, and tell me what it tastes like.”
  • “Repeat until you’ve had enough orange juice. When you’re done, shake out your hands.”

Pinwheel / Bubbles

Use a pinwheel or bubbles for this exercise. Blowing on a pinwheel or blowing bubbles helps control the breath. You can usually buy both at the Dollar Store!

  • “Take a slow, deep breath in for 5 seconds. Now blow the breath out slowly for 5 seconds as you blow on the pinwheel.”
  • Practice breath control by demonstrating how the pinwheel can go slow, then fast, then slow again to show how the speed is changed with how much air you blow out from your lungs. Encourage child to try.
  • Explain how our brains and bodies slow down as our breathing slows down, just like the pinwheel does when we breathe slowly on it.
  • Repeat the same exercise with bubbles as desired.

Rose & Candle

If you have the book, Eli Elephant Works Through Emotions, return to the page where Eli is smelling the rose and blowing out the candle.
Ask your child to practice taking slow, deep breaths with Eli.

  • Ask your child to hold up a finger on each hand, and imagine one finger is a rose and the other finger is a candle. In our family, we like to say, “In through your nose like you’re smelling a rose. Out through your mouth, blow the blue candle out.” (Or whatever color your child wants!)
  • You can also have them hold up 5 fingers (or you can hold up 5 fingers too). Pretend the fingers are candles with flickering flames, and they have to blow each candle out slowly, one at a time. With each breath they blow, put a finger down until all the candles are blown out. Teach your child to do this on their own too.
  • To switch things up, you can ask your child to pick the number and color of pretend “finger candles.”

Sensory 5-4-3-2-1 Technique

This is one of our family favorites and helps kids to become present in their bodies. Demonstrate and work with your child to breathe in for 5 seconds, hold breath for 5 seconds, and then blow breath out for 5 seconds. Repeat as needed to calm the breath. When emotions are especially elevated, we’ve started with the 5 senses to bring a sense of calm before moving to the breaths as a way of refocusing and centering. Calm the body by using the 5 senses:

  • “Name 5 things you can see,” or “Name 5 blue things you can see.” (Insert child’s favorite color or let them pick the color.)
  • “Name 4 things that you can touch. What does each object feel like?”
  • “Name 3 things you can hear.”
  • “Name 2 things you can smell.”
  • “Name 1 thing you can taste.”
  • “Finally take a few more deep breaths, and name 1 positive thing about yourself.”

Bunny Breathing

Guide your child as they pretend to be a bunny. Do this exercise with them to help.

  • “Pretend you are a bunny. You can even squat with your hands up, chin tucked down, and hop.”
  • “Now twitch and move your nose a few times like a bunny.” 
  • “Now take a few quick, short ‘bunny sniff’ breaths in through your nose. Now blow that breath out in one long, slow breath. Let’s try it again!”
  • Repeat a few times!

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