Helping your child relax: Deep breathing

Teaching your child ways to relax can help them fall asleep at night. This hand- out discusses a method known as Deep Breathing. Other methods include the Worry Box, Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Visualisation.

Deep breathing can help children relax. Taking deep, slow, breaths gives our body the message to relax.

Teaching your child deep breathing

First, ask your child to relax their shoulders.

Ask them to breathe IN for four slow counts.
Say “IN, 2, 3, 4” Now HOLD the breath for four counts.
Say “HOLD, 2, 3, 4” Ask them to breathe OUT for four counts.
Say “OUT, 2, 3, 4” Now HOLD the breath for four counts.
Say “HOLD, 2, 3, 4” Repeat up to four times.
Say “IN, 2, 3, 4” …

Talk to your child about how this will relax them, and how it’ll get easier with daily practice.

Your child may start to use this exercise in bed before they go to sleep. You can try gently reminding them they could try using it at bedtime, but don’t tell them they have to do this otherwise they can end up getting worried if it doesn’t work!

With any relaxation technique, it is best to be taught when not stressed.

Trying to teach a relaxation strategy when a child is very stressed can make their stress worse. Teach and practice relaxation techniques when you can both be calm and quiet together.

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