Small activities of mindful breathing can help better manage fears, moments of anger, help babies calm down and sleep or to switch from a dynamic activity to a more static one. Always in a playful way, of course 🙂
Remember to always do these exercises in a clean and well-ventilated room (perhaps with a Cube!)
What you will find in this article
5 fingers for 5 breathes + another 5
We offer you a simple but useful exercise to help even your little ones to stop and relax, before bedtime or after a lively game.
We’ll explain it to you, then you will explain it to your children (ah, but it’s also very useful for grown-ups, if you want to try!).
- Sit or lie down in a quiet space. Before bedtime or an afternoon nap, it is better to do this exercise already where the child already sleeps, because it could happen that he falls asleep in the meantime (and that’s fine! Goal achieved!)
- Move your fingers, stretch them a little, open and close them 3 or 4 times.
- Now make a hand into a fist and then open it by stretching your fingers.
- Put the index finger of the other hand at the base of the thumb and go up to the tip, then come down, repeat this up and down for all fingers, maybe a couple of times. As if with the index finger of one hand you were drawing the fingers of the other.
- Now add the breathing, like this: when you go up, always tracing from the base to the tip, inhale, pull the air in (from the nose), when you go down (from the tip of the finger to the base) exhale, always blowing out the air from the nose. Continue like this for all 5 fingers.
- Repeat 5 times, then switch hands and do the same 5 more times, always very slowly.
Become a mountain: an exercise for stability
- Stand up, with your legs slightly apart, just enough to guarantee maximum stability.
- Inhale through your nose and raise your arms high above your head.
- Place your hands palm to palm, the 5 fingers are joined.
- Stretch upwards, as if you were to become the tallest mountain. Keep your arms straight.
- Continuing to breathe slowly imagine your feet as roots, you are strong, sturdy and tall.
- Now exhale through your nose and, keeping your arms outstretched and your hands together, lower your arms to chest height.
- As you breathe, you stretch your arms forward, like an arrow about to be shot. Then relax.
- Slowly dissolve the position, bringing your arms to your hips.
Repeat this 5 times.
The breath of a story
“For the child, the fairy tale is above all the ideal instrument for keeping the adult nearby. (…) The mother is there entirely for the child, a constant and comforting presence providing security and protection.” (G. Rodari – The Grammar of Fantasy). Reading a fairy tale aloud is a wonderful relationship, healthy and relaxing tool for children. A story read together can really help to calm them if they are crying, having a tantrum, if they are afraid or angry. It can even become requested by the children themselves when they feel they cannot calm down alone. Obviously, this attitude must also be kept up: patiently proposing to sit together and read whenever the moment requires it.
Reading something with certain characteristics helps to lower the threshold of restlessness, to slow down excitement, to slow down the breathing and to bring the child to an acceptable breathing level and state of calm.
Here are some features and some reading tips for children under 5.
The story must be simple and repetitive, almost like a lullaby, with elements that return and that the child can foresee. As you read, go slowly, breathing slowly, maintaining the calm rhythm of the story.
The images must be simple, with soft colours and recognisable subjects, preferably related to everyday life and, specifically, the moment you are reading (stories for bedtime, stories to talk about anger, stories to calm down the crying).
As you read, dwell on the words and inhale and exhale through your nose slowly, inviting the child to do the same.
Some reading examples:
- Goodnight moon (Margaret Wise Brown, Clement Hurd | North South editions)
- The Big Book of Slumber (Giovanna Zoboli, Simona Mulazzani | Grand Rapids, Michigan – Cambridge U.K.)
To calm down:
- Little Blue and Little Yellow (Leo Lionni | Harpercollins Childrens Books)
- Little caterpillar is never full (Eric Carle | Mondadori edizioni)