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Breathing Exercises for Kids with FREE Printable

When Sunshine is feeling strong feelings, taking deep breaths helps her to not aggress or engage in negative behaviors in the moment.

However, she does often find breathing boring and complains that it doesn't seem to help with the actual emotion behind the behaviors that she's feeling at the time. 

That was the case, until we introduced the breathing exercises for kids mentioned in this post.

Sunshine absolutely LOVES them. They seem to work every time, so long as her brain isn't too activated.

I created a free printable to go along with the breathing exercises so that no matter where we go, we can bring the visuals to cue Sunshine when they are needed. For her, the visual is everything.

Breathing Exercises for Kids with FREE Printable

Confession time.

I can not take any credit for these breathing exercises. Full credit goes to Kira Willey, author of Breathe Like a Bear, and her amazing illustrator Anni Bets.

Breathe Like a Bear Book


Kira Willey wrote a magnificent book full of 30 different breathing activities that help children to calm, focus, imagine, energize, and relax.  (We do not use the energize activities with Sunshine as they activate her brain too much.)

Our entire family LOVES this book because it takes deep breathing to the next level, helping children visualize and engage with their mind and body in positive ways that not only help with behaviors, but also the emotions behind them.

Breathe Like a Bear

How doe Kira Willey do this you ask?

Each breathing exercise comes with a story and visualization. The exercise takes the child out of current circumstances and transplants them into another that is positive and enjoyable. 

For Sunshine, this is HUGE. 

Her brain deactivates. 

Instead of going to a dark place in her mind while she takes simple deep breathes, she visualizes the breathing exercises and goes to a happy place.

Once the result of the breathing exercise has been reached, she is able to talk about her emotions calmly and safely.

We absolutely LOVE the book, Breathe Like a Bear.

Breathe Like a Bear Cue Cards


Now, I've shared all of the pros of this book, but I must confess there is one con.

This book does not fit in my purse and is really hard to carry around to other places outside of the home!

To my knowledge, the author and publisher have not created portable cards to carry around to use in all settings. If they do, I'll be the first one to purchase them. I would LOVE it if they included the story on the back with the picture on the front for my reference.

But alas, there is no such thing, nor will there be until the author, illustrator and publisher decide to do so.

If and when they do, I will be replacing the resource below with the author and illustrator's work.

 In the meantime, I've had to come up with my own portable option.  I have created Breathe Like a Bear Cue Cards.


FREE Breathe Like a Bear Cue Cards for Kids

Now let me clarify what these cards are and aren't.

  • These cards do NOT include instructions and stories written by Kira Willey related to the breathing exercises found in the Breathe Like a Bear book.
  • These cards do NOT include the beautiful illustrations created by Anni Betts, nor claim to be anything like them.
  • These cards do NOT replace the incredible effort that Kira Willey and Anni Betts put into their masterpiece.
  • These cards do NOT work without having full details of the breathing activities in the book, Breathe Like a Bear.
  • These cards DO give true-to-life visuals that represent breathing activities listed in the book, with a title and a one word description of what type of breathing activity each card represents.
  • Those who choose to use these cards DO need to purchase the book in order to understand what any of the titles and exercises are.
  • These cards DO allow me to provide Sunshine with visuals for the breathing activities in the book, Breathe Like a Bear, when we are on the go and I'm unable to transport the book, but only after we've used the book to practice and memorize all that's necessary to remember while using the cards.
  • These cards are for personal use only.

How We Use the Breathe Like a Bear Cue Cards


Option 1:


These cards were created two years ago when we thought that Sunshine would be returning home to us sooner than later.

Before her last hospitalization we read through the book together and had her choose one to two breathing activities that she liked most. 

After practicing the breathing activities when she was calm to ensure that she had mastered them, I would initiate their use when emotions were high.

The goal was to have Sunshine eventually initiate them, choosing one or two a day to use when necessary.

Selecting her breathing cards for the day would be part of her initial check-in of the day.

These exercises worked every time, when Sunshine's brain wasn't too activated.

Option 2:


 Big emotions are not just something that happens at home. These cards are perfect for carrying in my purse when I don't have the book on hand to use.

When we prepare to leave, Sunshine will pick one or two breathing exercise cue cards to bring along if necessary. That way when she struggles, she has something tangible and visual to remind her of what to do.

If you do not own the book, Breathe Like a Bear, I HIGHLY recommend it. Though it's designed for children ages 4-8, I love it as an adult!

Finding the breathing techniques that work for your child specifically is so important. Understanding that every child is different is crucial to success.


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If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the resources below. 


4 Steps to Managing Aggressive Behaviors Four Prompts to Encourage Mindfulness in ChildrenOne Sure Way to Help Your Child Work Through Emotions How to Create and Use an Individualized Emotional Regulation Chart Anger Management for Kids Morning and Bedtime Routine Visuals and Supports

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