Ahhh…taking a deep breath with mindful breathing is such an easy way to add coping skills to a child’s repertoire of sensory diet activities. Deep breathing as part of mindfulness adds a moment of whole-body relief. With all that is going on in the world with the impact of COVID-19, children and families can feel stress and anxiety. When parents read and discuss current events in public health, children can sense the stress and feel worries that they can openly express. Using a deep breathing tool like this clover deep breathing coloring page is one way to cope. In fact, research tells us that deep breathing can reduce stress. Read on for more on using deep breathing as a coping strategy for kids…and to grab your clover coloring page!
Deep Breathing to RELIEVE Stress
Teaching kids mindfulness strategies is one way to reduce worries or stress. Stressors in the home or by hearing scary things can impact children in may ways. We know that stress can lead to declines in mental and physical health. For kids, this might show up as behaviors, acting out, fighting with siblings (more than usual), or even trouble concentrating and completing school work or learning at home.
One way to combat worries in children is to help them with mindfulness and the use of coping tools. Mindfulness entails paying attention to the present moment with a nonjudgmental and open awareness of one’s sensations, thoughts, and feelings (de Jong et. al., 2016). In children, we can help to reduce the impact of worries or anxiety by teaching them about mindful breathing. Taking in deep breaths while focusing on the inhale and exhale, children can become more aware of their body’s rhythm and sensations.
One way for parents and occupational therapists to support a child’s development is through addressing mindfulness. By providing tools to impact well-being, we can address stressors of both the family or parent and the child. In current public health situations (such as right now with the coronavirus keeping everyone at home and away from typical routines), stress might impact children in a variety of ways.
Research on Deep Breathing and Stress
Researchers have found changes in brain activity that occurs when deep breathing strategies are implemented. Check this out:
“Whereas the link between breathing and brain activity has a long history of application to therapy, its neurophysiology remains unexplored. Using intracranial recordings in humans, we show neuronal activity to track the breathing cycle throughout widespread cortical/limbic sites. Volitional pacing of the breath engages frontotemporal-insular cortices, whereas attention to automatic breathing modulates the cingulate cortex. Our findings imply a fundamental role of breathing-related oscillations in driving neuronal activity and provide insight into the neuronal mechanisms of interoceptive attention.”Read more from the Journal of Neurophysiology study.
Clover Deep Breathing Coloring Page
Use this deep breathing coloring page to work on mindful breathing with kids. Use it as a coping tool to encourage deep breaths in and out. This coloring page goes nicely with our Thanksgiving mindfulness deep breathing page, our pumpkin deep breathing activity, and our Christmas tree deep breathing page.
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Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to email@example.com.