Parents can be instrumental in training their children to regain and rebuild strong breathing habits. Before parents can teach their children, however, they must relearn proper breathing themselves. An optimal breathing pattern is slow, rich, and reaches into the abdomen. Shallow breathing only allows air into the upper part of the lungs, but deep abdominal breathing fills both the upper and the larger lower part of the lungs with air.
To practice this breathing technique, lie on your back with a hand on your upper abdomen near the diaphragm. Take a deep breath through your nose and watch as your abdomen rises. Try holding this breath for at least twenty seconds, then slowly exhale. It might feel a bit awkward and strange at first, but once you get a feel for the rhythm, you will begin to experience the benefits. You will almost immediately begin to feel a sense of clarity and relaxation as your lungs stretch out to make room for the oxygen your body was missing.
Breathe with Your Kids
Now that you know how to practice deep abdominal breathing, it is time to teach your child how to breathe well. Try some of these breathing exercises with your kids:
- Blow Up Your Belly Balloon. Ask children to imagine their abdomens are balloons. On the inhale they blow the balloons up big and full, and on the exhale they deflate them with a whoosh.
- Musical Inhale. Turn on a favorite song and have the children take a deep breath. Similar to the premise with musical chairs, the children should hold their breath when the music stops. Two seconds is a good place to start for younger children.
- Ping Pong Ball Races. On a hard floor, have children sit on their knees. Place a ping pong ball in front of each child. When you start the race, each child leans over and blows on a ping pong ball to move it forward. The first ball across the finish line is the winner.
- A Few of Their Favorite Things. Many childlike activities such as blowing on dandelions, blowing up balloons, and blowing out candles, are good breathing exercises.