6+ Important Reasons to Teach Kids Breathing Exercises

Illustration of girl doing a breathing exercises and list of reasons why breathing with mindfulness helps.


One of the most important things you can teach your children or students is breathing exercises for kids. So before you show students how to solve the next math problem…teach them how to breathe.  Or before you talk with your child about expected behaviors….teach them how to breathe.  In other words, one of the most effective things you can do is teach kids different mindful ways to breath.  

It will make your job of being a parent, teacher, school counselor, coach, grandparent, or any other kind of very important grown-up role a little bit easier.  

And these days, goodness knows we could all use a little bit easier…right?


Breathing is fundamental to life. Every cell in the body requires oxygen to survive. With each inhale, oxygen flows to every part of your body, creating energy. With each exhale, the breath releases toxins and soothes you from head to toe. 

Most of the time, you breathe without thinking. It is nature’s automated calming system. 

But when your body becomes stressed, your breathing patterns may become labored and difficult.  You might breathe too shallow or extra fast.  Perhaps you might even start yawning. 

These are all clues pointing to dysregulated emotions.  Or signs that you might be feeling anxious, distracted, upset, discouraged, sad, bored, indifferent or other uncomfortable feelings that make it hard to learn, focus or be thoughtful.  In other words, signals that communicate it’s a good time to pause and zoom your attention to your breathing.

This is true for adults.  And for kids too. 

Teaching Kids Breathing Exercises by WholeHearted School Counseling


1. Acts Like a Pause Button 

When you take slow, deep and focused breaths, on purpose, you can actually “trick” your body into feeling more calm, even when you feel the opposite of relaxed. Taking slow, deep and focused breaths acts like a “Pause” or “Reset” button, moving you out of a Fight-Flight-Freeze state into a Relaxed & Responsive state, even in the presence of overwhelming emotions.

2. Improves Health

Breathing with focused attention, or mindfulness, improves your immune response, keeping you stronger and healthier. It lowers your blood pressure, slows down your heart rate, and decreases tension, stress and anxiety in your body.

3. Helps with Learning and Memory

Moreover, mindful breathing can even clear up foggy thinking, and improve your memory, attention, focus and concentration, making it easier for you to learn and to show off your amazing, bright, unique, creative brilliance.

4. Sends a Calm Down Message to the Brain

On top of that, mindful breathing sends a message to your brain that everything will be okay …and, that you can get through hard things.  On other words, helping you to feel more calm and capable. And when you feel more calm and capable, you can make better, more thoughtful decisions about what to do next, solve problems, and find solutions.

5. Grows the Prefrontal Cortex, or Thoughtful, Executive Functioning Part of the Brain

And get this, mindful breathing actually nurtures and grows your pre-frontal cortex.  This is the part of your brain that helps you to plan ahead, think before you say or do something, and show others that you care about them. This also means you can act with more self-control.

In other words, when you focus on breathing first, everything else goes a bit more smoothly after that. This is why teaching breathing exercises for kids is so helpful.  

6. Breathing Exercises Are Easy to Do!

Best of all, mindfulness breathing can be done anywhere and at any time.  No special equipment or space is needed.  Just our bodies and our breath.  It can be done standing, sitting, or even lying down.  

In the classroom, mindful breathing can become a dedicated few minutes to begin the day and energize the mind and body.  Throughout the day, taking a few moments to pause and breathe can do wonders for transitions and getting kids focused and back on track.  A breathing exercise or two can also be a way to create calm as we say goodbye at the end of the day. 


There are so many different ways to practice mindfulness breathing.  The most simple and basic only requires focusing on your breath.  However, sometimes young people need more concrete and developmentally appropriate exercises to better guide them.  Breathing exercises such as Hot Cocoa, Rocks and Socks, and the Roller Coaster are some favorites.   

Add some music and animation, and your elementary school aged kids will love these videos which teach 30 different breathing and mindful movement exercises.  (Check out the video preview below!) They can be used as brain breaks perfect for transitions.  Or transforming a slightly too high energy….or slightly too low energy….classroom into a more balanced, ready to learn one.    

Animated Breathing Exercise Videos for Kids
Play Video about Animated Breathing Exercise Videos for Kids

Before inviting the young people people in your life to try out different mindfulness breathing activities, invite yourself to practice it too.  As it goes, we can only teach and guide what we know and practice.  Experiment with different breathing techniques.  Notice the ones that resonate and the ones that don’t.  Then share some different breathing exercises with the children you support.  

Go ahead and try it now. Take a slow breath in through your nose,  to the count of 4.  Hold for a second or two. Then take a slow breath out through your nose, to the count 6.  And repeat. 

Or bring forth your inner-kid and try out something fun like the Hot Cocoa Breath. (Click here to grab your free animated Hot Cocoa Breath Video!).  


  • Pretend you are holding a mug of hot cocoa cradled between both of your hands.

  • Bring the mug near your face.

  • Take a slow breath in.

  • Imagine that you are smelling the yummy, comforting chocolate aroma.

  • Slowly, with gentleness, exhale.

  • Pretend to blow the steaming hot cocoa to cool it down.

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