Mindful breathing is our go-to practice for good reason. Just last week my son got a big paper cut and when we wanted to clean the cut and put a bandaid on it he freaked out.
I saw that he was in a state of acute stress response ( also known as fight flight freeze). He was hyperventilating and his heart was beating like a drum. He couldn’t speak in full sentences…
I felt so sorry for him. He was in a state of panic that was completely involuntary. The old part of his brain had taken over and was preparing his body to deal with the terror. Cleaning a cut and placing a bandaid is no biggie for an adult, but for him it felt like the end of the world. I tried to explain but reasoning doesn’t work when your brain is preparing your body to fight or flee ( even if the threat is imaginary).
to my great surprise my son suddenly stuttered…
“I will do calming breaths.”
And he did… he did 10 mindful breaths and that calmed his brain and body. He stopped shaking, his breathing became calm so that he could speak in full sentences, and I felt how his heart returned to its normal pace.
This is the power of mindful breathing and it makes me so happy to know that my son has this simple tool to help him feel better when he needs it <3
Afterwards, I understood that it was the bandaid that was the main trigger… he was mortally afraid of putting the bandaid on. It might sounds silly to an adult but it sure wasn’t silly for him – he felt like he could die. It was a question of survival for his brain.
This is telling of how we as humans deal with fear… most of the time the things that we fear never come to pass. Yet, we can feel physically ill from the anticipation … of the fear and anger we experience anticipating something horrible. Cleaning the cut and placing the bandaid didn’t hurt one bit, but he was so afraid of it that his brain went into “fight flight freeze” mode.
Now, it’s important to know that we’ve been doing mindful breathing for years. It’s something you want to do regularly to make it stick and to be able to use when it matters – when you want to focus, calm down, feel better and think clearly. My son uses it frequently and so do I. The cool bit is that it’s easy, and with children it’s enough to practice a couple of times a week for a minute or two.
Over the years we’ve tried many different ways to do mindful breathing and we figured out many fun, kid-friendly and playful ways together with my son.
You want it to be fun and playful so that children have fun learning and actually retain the skill. Having taught mindfulness for years and having tried over 200 mindfulness activities for children I’ve found that play and story telling is one of the most effective ways to learn and retain the skills – that is why Baby Shark breathing is so powerful.
Baby Shark Goes Mindful – Doo doo doo doo doo doo :)
Baby Shark breathing was one of the funniest and most memorable ways of doing mindful breathing that we invented. Now we want to share it with the world… so, together as a family, we created a fun engaging book called “Baby Shark Saves the Day” that shows you exactly how and when it can be helpful to do mindful breathing. To our surprise, our book became a #1 Amazon best-seller with tens of amazing five-star reviews from educators, parents and psychologists.
Here’s one review:
★★★★★ Fun & easy! My 6yo loves it
“My 6yo daughter and I really like this book! We’ve been practicing calming breaths for months, but I’ve struggled with getting her to actually breathe deeply enough to fill her lungs. Having 3 sizes of breaths, and fun cartoon friends to visualize, took care of this problem in just one read-through. Fun and easy! Highly recommend.” – Amazon Customer
I’ll tell more about the fun book in a bit and I’ll share a video where Ms. Jo reads Baby Shark Saves the Day to children so that you can see why people love it :)
But first, here’s how you can do Shark Breathing :-)
Mindfulness Games for Kids – Baby Shark Breathing
Purpose: Focus, Calm, Body awareness, Attention skills
Best for: Ages 3+, groups or one-on-one
What you need: Nothing, but it’s fun if you already know the Baby Shark song and some moves
When you do mindful breathing, you shift your mind from difficulties and to-do lists to your body and how it feels to breathe. Baby Shark breathing is simple: you sync the movement of your fingers, hands and arms with your breath, pretending your fingers, hands and arms are the jaws of a shark. Baby Shark has small jaws. Mommy bigger jaws and daddy has huge jaws :)
If you want to go “all in” with Baby Shark, you can sing while your child does the breathing part, for example, like this:
“Breathe in. Doo doo doo doo doo doo.”
“Breathe out. Doo doo doo doo doo doo.”
It will give you a few giggles for sure, and that’s more than okay during practice. :-)
Here’s a video of me and my son showing how to do Baby Shark Breathing :)
The above video is part of our Easy Mindful Breathing for Kids Online Mini-Course with 15 fun ways to learn and do mindful breathing.
Baby Shark Saves the Day – Mindful Children’s Book makes learning mindful breathing a breeze
We created our first children’s mindfulness book as a family project, together with our 5-year old son, based on our own experiences with challenging everyday situations to show how mindful breathing has helped us handle difficult emotions. Mindful breathing requires practice, and this book will help you build a foundation through play for a sustained practice so you receive the benefits. The story and the characters make mindful breathing fun and memorable. Baby Shark Saves the Day is a great read when you need to calm down, for example, to wind down at bedtime.
Here’s Ms. Jo and her child reading the book. It’s such sweet video :-) Thank you so much Ms. Jo!! <3 <3
And… yes, you get the printable Baby Shark Crowns when you purchase the book plus fun coloring pages and a breathing board children can use to practice mindful breathing easily :)
I hope you’ll enjoy this fun mindfulness game like so many others have :-)
You can get Baby Shark Saves the Day here on Amazon:
Here are a few more five-star reviews:
★★★★★ “This is a must have book for any parent or primary teacher!” – Brigitte, Teacher
★★★★★ “What a wonderful and simple way to teach children about mindfulness. I’m a behavior interventionist at an urban elementary school and will be using this book in my instruction. – Teresa, Behavior Interventionist
★★★★★ “I coach elementary classrooms in mindfulness and this will become one of my go to resources.” – Meg, Mindfulness Teacher and Instructional Coach
★★★★★ “Drawing on their experiences actually putting mindfulness into practice, the Bergstrom family have created an engaging and fun way to introduce mindful breathing to children.” – Rebecca, Educational and Developmental Psychologist and Mum
★★★★★ “What a wonderful children’s book. Introducing mindfulness through storytelling is a fun and engaging way to help children build confidence, understand emotions and overcome anxious feelings. – Jana, Mindfulness Teacher and Practitioner
★★★★★ “Loved the positive message for both parents and children. Great explanation of how to use mindful breathing in so many situations that are difficult for children.” – Sharon, Children’s Yoga Teacher
★★★★★ “A lovely way of combining a social story and breathing technique in a totally accessible way to young readers.” – Vicky, Behaviour Support Worker
Wishing you many fun mindful moments :-)
Chris Bergstrom ( Chief Mindfulness Ninja @ Blissful Kids )
If you are new to mindfulness with children OR you want to make practice easy we recommend our online mindfulness courses.
Chris Bergstrom is a bestselling mindfulness author, a leader in the field of mindfulness, the founder of BlissfulKids.com, a blog dedicated to children’s mindfulness, and a dad who is thrilled to practice mindfulness with his son. He is a certified mindfulness facilitator and trained to teach mindfulness to students in K-12. He’s also known as “the dad who tried 200+ mindfulness activities” and has taught meditation for more than 15 years.