Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Square Breathing

My favorite belly breathing method to teach elementary students who need to calm down and relax is square or box breathing. Square breathing produces amazing positive results for most people who are feeling anxious, nervous, excited or fearful and you would like to get clam (neutral feeling).
  • Breathe in to a count of four.
  • Hold to a count of four.
  • Breathe out to a count of four.
  • Again hold to a count of four.
For young children it helps to move their hand in the shape of the square while breathing and holding the breaths.  I tell them to start and repeat the same process four times and then shift to thinking a positive thought (affirmation).

 For example, this morning I was working with a fourth grade girl who gets a nervous stomach on school mornings to the point where she stayed home yesterday.  She clearly has separation issues (the problem has been much worse since returning from spring break).  We agreed the next time in the morning she wants to tell mom "I don't want to go to school because my stomach feels weird," she would first try 4 square breaths and try reframing her irrational thought into "I am good in school/I can go to school and have a good day/I can do school and home will be waiting when I get out."  I like the visual chart I have that facilitates teaching and remembering the basic mechanics of the technique.  It shows breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth.

It’s simple, easy and very effective. I called my students mom (with her permission) and told mom if she complains about her stomach to prompt using the square breathing and positive thoughts/affirmations.

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