This is the third in a our DESTY Series where I share practical tips on how to help a child with anxiety. It’s heartbreaking to see a child that suffers from anxiety. The DESTY Breathing Technique is a simple tool to help your child calm themselves when anxious.
Part 3 – Empower your Child to Calm with the DESTY Breathing Technique
When supporting people dealing with anxiety and especially children I think one of the most powerful tools that we have at our disposal is our breath. Because our breath works in the “here and now”. When we tune into our breathing it helps us to tune into the present moment. As we’ve said before a lot of anxiety is caused about worrying about things in the future that may or may not happen. Or about events that have an uncertain outcome. This is part of life and we have to learn how to deal with this. With breathing we’re able to bring ourselves back into the moment. We can connect with what is happening here in front of us in the “here and now”.
What to do:
I love a very particular type of breathing which is called belly breathing or diaphragm breathing. We call it DESTY Breathing. We have a lovely short animation featuring our character Desty that we use with children. It supports them to connect with their breath when they’re feeling anxious.
This is a very simple technique which everyone can use. Basically you take one hand and place it on your chest, while you place your other hand on your belly,. Then all you do is breathe in deeply through your nose for a count of three, filling up your belly like it’s a balloon. You should be able to see and feel your belly inflate. Then you breathe out slowly through the mouth. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And yet, it’s incredibly effective at calming the mind and stilling the anxious thoughts.
Our DESTY Belly Breathing animation has been created specially for kids. You’ll see that Desty is breathing in white clouds and letting go of dark clouds. That was an idea that came from a little girl that I was working with who is an amazing and very resilient young lady. When I showed her our very first version of the DESTY Breathing, she said “Yeah, I learned to do that and I liked the animation but when I do it I think of breathing in light bright thoughts and letting go of dark heavy ones.” And so that’s where we came up with the cloud idea. A great way to visualise getting rid of stress and anxiety if I ever heard!
This is such a lovely and effective tool to help children deal with anxiety and I would definitely recommend that you give it a try. You can use it at home one on one with your child. Or teachers can even use it with a class on a whiteboard as a brain break exercise. It’s available from our Free Resources section below.