Hoberman Sphere

The Hoberman Sphere is one of our favorite tools for teaching kids about breathing. Check it out!

By Momentous Institute | Dec 12, 2014

One of our favorite tools for teaching kids about breathing is the Hoberman Sphere. This is a classic toy that you can buy online or at most toy stores. We’ve found it incredibly helpful in teaching kids about their breath.
When kids gets excited or worked up, their breath gets shorter and faster. There are two important things to note about this:
1)      Asking a worked up child simply to calm down and take deep breaths often causes more anxiety. We’ve all seen it happen – a child is short of breath and crying, and you ask him to breathe. He starts taking even shorter, more anxious breaths. Focusing on his breath can actually make it worse!
2)      When a child is in a state of anxiety, it is completely normal for the adult’s anxiety to also increase. It’s stressful to be around an upset child!
This is why the Hoberman Sphere is such a great tool. Using a prop, the child can externalize their anxiety. This puts the thought about breathing on something outside of himself, which can be calming. Here’s how we use it:
Let’s take a minute to use this sphere to focus on our breathing. I’m going to match the sphere to the speed of your breathing.
Expand and release the sphere slightly at a speed that matches the child’s breathing. As the child inhales, expand the sphere. As the child exhales, contract the sphere. Then let the child know that together you’re both going to slow down your breathing. Ask him to try to match his breath to the speed of the sphere. It’s important that you, as the adult, also slow down your breathing. Children pick up on this, and if you’re slowing down, he will too. Then you will both be in a more centered, regulated space to have a conversation about what caused the original upset.

Hoberman Example

Once the child is in a more regulated state, ask him questions about the experience. Which type of breathing was easier? Was it hard to slow down your breathing? What type of breathing do you do most of the time? What type of breathing makes your body feel most relaxed?
This is a great tool for helping a child calm down, but it can also be used to help build up the skill of mindful breathing. Try it with an individual or group of kids during a calm time. Giving kids the tools they need to go from fast to slow breathing is invaluable – they’ll be better equipped to do it on their own without intervention the next time!