When kids are learning about breathing, it really helps to use props. It’s one thing to ask a child to take a deep breath, but something else entirely when they can see the difference between a short, shallow breath and a long, deep breath. So here’s a really simple strategy using a prop that you can easily pick up at any dollar store or toy store.


Ask a child to blow as hard as he can on the pinwheel. Look how fast it spins! Kids love to start off with big breath – that’s really easy and fun. You might build this section out a little. Is that the fastest you can make it? Do you want to try again and see if it can go even faster?


After he’s exhausted the full breath, see if he can slow it down. What is the slowest and lightest you can breathe and still move the pinwheel?


Then it’s important to check in with the child. You can ask him questions such as:


-Which type of breathing was easier?


-Which did you like better?


-Which is most like the way you usually breathe?


Giving children insight into their breathing allows them to notice it throughout the day. Having a prop like the pinwheel can allow them to stop and visualize their breathing. The next time you notice a child struggling, you might consider drawing attention to the breath. Ask curious questions: “What is your breath like now? I wonder if taking some slow, deep breaths might help you feel better?” At a moment of anxiety, the child might think, “I’m breathing crazy fast.” And now he’ll have a strategy to slow his breath down.

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