Last week we talked about why it is important to teach students how to breathe deeply and different techniques to use.
Research tells us that children usually need to take at least 5 deep breaths and children who have experienced trauma may need to take 7-10 deep breaths.
It is helpful to give students a visual to count the breaths they are counting. Not only does this help them keep track of the number of breaths but also gives them a cognitive skill to focus on to move their thinking from flight-freeze-fight to frontal lobe, rational thinking.
Students can count on their fingers or use visuals in which they move a piece from one area to another. Deep Breathing free resource. The resource includes a board for both 5 and 7 deep breaths.
Teaching Deep Breathing
1.Breathing influences all other systems in our bodies. Slowing our breathing and being conscious of our breathing helps us to calm our nervous system. Therefore, this is a skill that students will need throughout their entire lives.
2. Easy to do anywhere – with no equipment- it is portable!
3. Produces a relaxed state of being
4.Can be calming
5. Improves oxygen to the brain which in turn improves our thinking ability
6. Provides us with a sense of control
How to Teach Deep Breathing:
- Teach each technique – one at a time to the entire class when everyone is calm and in a good mood.
- Show visuals of each technique and post them in a place where students can use them as reminders.
- Practice, Practice, Practice at all times of the day. Students need lots and lots of practice so that the techniques can be used automatically in times of stress. It takes LOTS of practice to become an expert.
- Teach students to recognize signs of stress, frustration, and anger such as face getting hot, clenched fists, heavy breathing, crying, sweating, scrunched eyebrows, pounding heart.
- Teach students the difference between short, quick, shallow breaths and long, deep, calming breaths. We want students to be using deep breathing since short breaths can actually make anxious feelings increase.
- Model and role-play different situations practicing self-talk such as “I am upset that he took my toy. I can breathe like a bear 7 times.” “I am nervous about the fire drill. I can take 7 bunny breaths.” “He cut in line. I can say, “It’s okay” and take 7 deep breaths.”
11 Different Cards of Visuals for Teaching Deep Breathing
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