Pawfect Breathing Games

Pawfect Breathing Games

Mindful breathing can help children feel calmer, but sometimes breathing practices are hard for traumatised children. Practices that involve being very still or having eyes-closed or with periods of silence can be challenging for a child if they are easily triggered into a fight/flight/freeze response. In survival mode, it is impossible to be mindful.

I have found in my therapeutic work that initially many children have not been able to take deep breaths. Short, shallow breathing has become habitual for them, probably as a result of living in constant states of hypervigilance & tension. Finding simple but playful activities that involve an element of breath control, can be a good introduction to mindful breathing, & feel less challenging than focusing solely on the breath. Such activities can also help to encourage co-operative play.

Co-operative, shared play can make it easier for you to support & encourage your child to give it a try. Activities where you can build in a pause, speed up & slow down are also great for learning to manage arousal levels.

 Here are 4 suggestions:

  1. Take turns blowing bubbles for each other to pop.
  2. Blow a windmill together & make it spin. See if you can vary the speed of the spin. Try making the windmill spin as long as you can with one deep breath.
  3. Squeeze a stress ball (or putty, playdough or pillow) as you breath in & relax your hands as you breathe out. Synchronise your breathing together, or alternate – as one breathes in the other breathes out. Speed up & slow down.
  4. Blow a cotton ball (or ping-pong ball, or feather) between each other. Speed up & slow down. See how many passes you can make in 30 seconds.

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