De-Stress Technique: Deep Breathing
Why it works: Taking deep, belly-filling breaths sends an all-clear signal to the nervous system that triggers the relaxation response: The heart beats more slowly, blood pressure comes down, and the muscles release tension, says Susan Biali, M.D., the author of Live a Life You Love ($17, amazon.com).
How to teach it: Have your child sit or lie down and coach her to breathe in and out of her nose so that her belly fills with air and empties again. For a younger kid, coach her to fill her belly like a balloon as she breathes in and then let the air out as if she’s blowing water from her nose. You can also have her place a hand on her belly and try to move her hand up and down with each breath. For an older kid, tell him to try to imagine inhaling peace and exhaling frustration.
Times to try it: Lying in bed just before sleep; at school before a big test; during a major homework session, when she needs a “brain break.”