Promote your little one’s emotional well-being by making a breathing wand to teach breathing techniques, positive affirmations and mindfulness.
By Vanessa Suzette McClaney
A breathing wand is a self-care tool that promotes children’s emotional well-being by teaching them breathing techniques, positive affirmations and mindfulness. In this family fun craft, children will grow to understand that the power of the breathing wand is not in the wand itself, but within them.
Being in touch with one’s emotions is an important skill set that helps us manage stress, control impulses, and overcome obstacles as we grow older, according to experts at the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues and the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL). You can help your little one understand and practice this skill with this activity.
We would suggest working on this craft — and the mindfulness exercises afterward — in the living room or family room, where the whole family can get involved. Having easy access to the wand after it’s created is important so children can actually use it in situations when they need to calm down and find peace within.
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To promote mindfulness and self-empowerment by showing children that they’re in control of their mind and body. Using the wand as a visual resource will encourage children to:
- Use deep breathing to self regulate emotions and promote inner peace.
- Body scan: learn how to check in with different places in their body to see how they’re feeling.
- Use positive “I AM” affirmations to instill confidence and boost self-esteem.
- 1 Pipe cleaner
- 12 Beads (small beads work better)
Step One: Starting with one side of the pipe cleaner, create a small circle by wrapping the end of the pipe cleaner around itself. This will secure a closure and allow you to thread the beads without them slipping off.
Step Two: Thread all 12 beads on the pipe cleaner in any order you’d like.
Teachable moment: Use this step to incorporate learning concepts such as patterns, counting and identifying colors.
Step Three: Secure a closure to the other side of the pipe cleaner just as you did in step one. Be sure to leave enough room on your wand to be able to slide the beads from one side to the other once both ends are closed.
Step Four: Using one of the closure circles, sculpt a heart by bending the pipe cleaner in the middle.
Teachable moment: Have children find their own heart. Younger children may need assistance. Ask if they can feel their heart beating. Is it beating fast or slow? What might make the pace change?
Keep the Conversation Going
Making the breathing wand is only part of the fun. Once you have your wand, here are some ways in which you can use it.
Mindful Breathing: Starting with all 12 beads on one side, slide one bead across the wand as you inhale deeply and move another as you exhale slowly. Repeat this process until all the beads are on the other side.
“I AM” Affirmations: Affirmations are powerful statements that promote self-validation (i.e., I am kind, I am brave, I am peaceful). Appoint a bead for each word of an “I am” statement while gliding them from one side of the wand to the other.
Heart/Body Scan: The heart on the wand is a great visual reminder to check in on your own heart and emotions. How are you feeling? More importantly, explore how you feel after practicing mindful breathing and reciting affirmations. Take this opportunity to talk about, draw, or journal these thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness Apps: Educational mindfulness apps for little ones can help you and your child continue the conversation as well. Here are some we recommend:
Vanessa Suzette McClaney is a certified yoga instructor and wellness educator. Her professional experiences with early childhood development, coupled with her adventures as a mom, have made her passionate about making wellness accessible and practical for all. Follow her on her Instagram account Suzette Says.
This article was originally published on PBS SoCal’s At-Home Learning initiative.