I know of two great ways to teach meditative breathing techniques to young children. In the first method, you have the child lay down and breathe in and out deeply. Once they are comfotable, you begin to discuss how the belly raised on inhale and sinks on exhale. Then, place a beanie baby (or other small stuffed animal) on the child’s belly. Have them concentrate on making the animal rise and fall repeatedly with each breath. Breathe slowly, notice your body relax and try not to let the animal fall off. Great fun!
Another technique uses a flower and candle as symbols to help the child focus on breathing. The author of this activity, Jennifer Jazwierska , suggests that the child visualize the imagery. I could also see using the actual flower and unlit candle with very small children. Here are the teaching steps she lists on her fantastic site, kidsrelaxation.com.
1. Hold the left hand in a fist. Ask the child to imagine that it is a flower.
2. Hold the right hand in a fist. Ask the child to imagine that it is a candle.
3. Breathe in and pretend to sniff the flower in the left hand.
4. Breathe out and blow out the candle. Encourage the child to breathe deeply, to really smell the flower. Then tell them to make sure they really really blow the candle out.
Discussion – What does your flower look like? Could you imagine smelling it? When might you use this tool?