Sleepy Time episode three – Balloon belly breathing technique for two to five year olds
This fun mindfulness exercise is a great way to help children release tension from their bodies at bedtime, which will help them to relax ready for a great night's sleep
When children are trying to settle down for bed, it can be difficult to get them to doze off if they have lots of pent up tension or anxiety.
In the third episode of the Sleepy Time podcast in association with parenting website Made For Mums, we're looking at a fun meditation practice to help your child release any pent up energy that they might have at the end of the day.
Psychologist and yoga teacher Suzy Reading has devised a fun breathing technique to help introduce your child to mindfulness.
Help your child to relax with Suzy Reading's mindful balloon belly breathing meditation
The day is done and now it is time to snuggle into bed. All the busyness is finished and now your body is getting ready for rest. This calm breathing exercise will help you rest until sleep comes. Before you settle in, find a soft cuddly toy who will be your partner. Hug them tight right now and whisper in their ear that you’re going to take them for a little ride. You’re going to take a relaxing journey together.
Let your cuddly friend lie by your side now. It’s time to get you set up first. Lie onto your back and let your head sink into your pillow. Notice how nice and soft your bed feels under your body. You might like to imagine that your bed is a white, fluffy cloud, floating in the sky. Not a care in the world. Let your body relax completely down into it. Arrange the covers over you so you feel warm and comfy. It’s like the cloud is giving you a cuddle. Now give your toes a little gentle wriggle, feeling the fluffy white cloud give them a tiny tickle. Then let your toes relax and let your legs go floppy too. Notice how nice it feels to let them flop. Now give your fingers a little wriggle and then let them relax too. Let your arms drop into the cloud holding you.
Your whole body is feeling calm and safe. It feels good to lie still for a little while, just enjoying this feeling of rest, your whole body relaxing, your breathing calm and smooth. Find your friend and give them another squeeze. It is fun to snuggle together but now it’s time to take them on a ride. Gently pop them onto your tummy, it’s time to begin. Letting your whole body flop once more, start to feel your breathing. If you can, let it come in and out through your nose. Notice that as you breathe, your body moves with it. Take a little time to just feel where the breath goes. Can you feel it in your chest? Can you feel it in your sides? Can you feel it in your tummy? Just enjoy feeling where it moves in your body.
Now imagine there is a balloon inside your tummy. What colour would you like your balloon to be? Maybe it’s a calm colour like sky blue or sea green. As you breathe in, the balloon gets bigger. As you breathe out, the balloon gets smaller. Take some lovely deep breaths now, imagining the balloon filling and emptying as you go. This is where your friend gets to enjoy the ride! As you take a lovely deep breath in, your friend goes up and as you breathe out, your friend slowly comes back down. It’s a smooth and calm ride you both enjoy together. Letting your breathing lead you into sleepy time. Slowly breathing in. And slowly breathing out.
Keep imagining the balloon in your tummy, feeling it fill and letting it empty, your friend rising up and lowering down along the way. Calmly leading you to sleepy time. If this feel really nice, stay as you are, softly breathing into the balloon in your tummy, or if you feel ready to, you can curl up on your side, and give your partner a tight squeeze. Whatever helps you snuggle now into sleepy time. Happy sleep is on its way.