Discussing mindfulness for kids is a powerful strategy in addressing so many needs. Kids with sensory processing needs or self-regulation needs, or even emotional regulation needs may benefit from this holiday awareness activity.
First, let’s talk about what a breathing star is.
A breathing star is a visual prompt that allows kids to follow a star design with their eyes or fingers to guide mindful and deep breathing. The breathing star can be a variety of shapes or forms, but the benefits are the same.
A breathing star might include:
- A breathing star drawn on paper while doodling
- A printable star coloring page like the one below
- A star with arrows that a user can follow with deep breaths
- This Star of David deep breathing tool
It’s a free printable Christmas coloring page with benefits! Scroll below to grab your printable page.
Why Use a Breathing Star?
First, let’s talk about what mindfulness means. Mindfulness in children is the ability to be aware of one’s actions and self in the moment.
Consideration of well-being is important in addressing occupations across environments. OT practitioners can address mindfulness as a means for improving regulation, self-efficiency, stress, anxiety, trauma exposure, or other issues the child may face. Some mindfulness strategies for kids include breath awareness, body sweep, and labeling of feelings.
One such mindfulness tool for children includes deep breathing. Combining this with stress-reducing coloring or focused activity can be a means for helping kids to become aware of how their body is responding to outside input or stressors.
You’ve probably seen the variety of coloring books out there designed as coping tools for stress or anxiety. These can be a way to teach kids about focused awareness and mindfulness in the moment.
It allows us to focus on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting what’s happening on the inside: in our feelings, thoughts, or sensations. This can be a tough skill for kids to master and why a breathing star can support that need.
For kids, mindfulness is a skill that allows them to be aware of their body and how it’s responding in the moment. Mindfulness for kids is important for them to have the ability to pay attention and responding to input from the world around us.
Mindfulness in kids means noticing their body and the things happening around them. It has a lot to do with impulse control. Just like any other skill, mindfulness is an ability that develops over time.
It’s easy to see how this skill relates to so many other areas that occupational therapists address: self-regulation, self-confidence, attention, social-emotional skills, coping skills, sensory processing, impulsivity and inhibition, and overall well being.
Also be sure to check out these Mindfulness for Kids YouTube Videos.
How to Use a Breathing Star Visual Support
A tool like this self regulation star is easy to use:
- Start with a pointer finger pointing at any of the points on the star.
- Take a deep breath in as the finger traces along the arrow.
- When you reach one of the points of the star, pause and hold your breath.
- Then, trace along the arrow to the next point as you breathe out.
- When you reach the next point of the star, your lungs will be empty. Pause and hold your breath with empty lungs.
- Continue as you trace along the outer edge of the star, pausing to hold your breath at each point.
How Does a Breathing Star Work?
The best thing about the printable breathing star is that it is a visual cue that can be used in any situation or no matter the environment.
We cover how a printable tool like this sensory breath star can support a variety of needs in our resource on breathing exercises.
The benefit of the breathing star is the pause points at the end of each star’s point. This pause point allows for breath control. As the breath is held after filling the lungs or emptying the lungs, the lungs continue to expand as does the rib cage. This offers interoceptive awareness as heavy work fills the chest area.
We cover this sensory strategy in our resource on relaxation breathing.
Occupational therapy practitioners working with children are interested in the well-being and the whole child. Functioning and independence in daily occupations are impacted by the “whole child”. The breathing sensory star offers the tool to support these needs.
Below is a free printable coloring page for holiday mindfulness. Pair this with our Christmas Mindfulness coloring page for a mindfulness exercise for kids.