The other day I had a child who was acting completely crazy. I have a cozy corner in my classroom that children can go to if they are upset and need a minute to calm down, so I told this child, “You are acting too wild. I need you to go over there and calm down.”
He went, and I glanced over a minute later and happened to see him – breathing! I couldn’t believe my eyes, in fact. I teach breathing exercises in our group setting all the time. It is a way to clear the stress, engage the brain, and bring focus to the group. I honestly don’t remember if I ever used the words, “Let’s calm down,” or any other phrasing like that in relation to the exercise. I think a few times I may have said, “I need to calm down. Who wants to breathe with me?”
To see this child voluntarily using breathing as a calming technique made my heart soar. I still can’t explain how he made the connection, but his use of breathing has caused it to be more widely used by myself and the other children. It is amazing to see the change that comes over the classroom when we engage in breathing together; everyone becomes calmer, more relaxed, and conversation takes a more engaging tone. Using breathing techniques to calm down and settle into an activity is a priceless stress-relieving tool, and I am glad that the children remind me of that every so often.