Deep breathing is a technique that helps promote awareness of and mastery over bodily sensations such as hyperventilation, rapid heartbeat, tense muscles, or sweaty palms. These bodily sensations are often the first sign that the fight-or-flight response has been triggered by a cue.
In the deep breathing exercise, have the child sit comfortably. While imagining climbing a mountain, guide the child in taking a deep, slow inhale while climbing up and a deep, slow exhale while climbing down (suggested count of 3 on inhale and 4 on exhale). Repeat this exercise three times in total and then let the child practice on their own three more times. After the exercise, ask the child about any changes in bodily sensations or feelings.
Deep breathing counteracts the natural fight-or-flight response of shallow, rapid breathing that prevents the body from using oxygen efficiently.
Practice this deep breathing exercise for 4–5 minutes. How do you feel? What changes do you notice in your body?