Take 5 Breathing - regulate your emotions

Take 5 Breathing - regulate your emotions

Learn the simple Take 5 breathing technique to help children regulate and process their emotions.

Skills and benefits:

  • Concentration
  • Managing emotions
  • Learning senses
What is Take 5 Breathing?

During take 5 breathing, children concentrate on taking five slow breaths in through their nose and out through their mouths. Children may need to practice this first as they may be mouth breathing. If you notice that your child finds breathing through their nose a challenge, invite them to imagine they are smelling a beautiful flower or their favourite food as they breathe in, and then to breathe out with a big sigh. (Breathing in and smelling a beautiful smell and breathing out with a sigh because it smelt so good.) At the same time as breathing, children will focus on the action of tracing up and down the fingers of one hand and the gentle sensations this creates.

What to do:

  1. Spread your hand and stretch your fingers out like a star. You can choose your left hand or your right hand. Pretend the pointer finger of your other hand is a pencil and imagine you are going to trace around the outline of your hand and fingers.

  2. Start at the bottom of your thumb and slide your finger up your thumb, pause at the top, and then slide your finger down the other side. Now slide your pointer up your second finger, pause, and slide down the other side. Continue tracing your fingers up, pause, and down. Slide your finger slowly, watch your finger move and notice how it feels. Keep going until you have finished tracing your fifth finger (pinky).

  3. Now you are ready to add some breathing. Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth. Remember to keep it slow and steady.

  4. Place your pointer finger at the bottom of your thumb, and breathe in as you slide up. Breathe out as you slide down. Breathe in as you slide up your second finger, and breathe out as you slide down. Keep going until you have finished tracing your fingers and you have taken five slow breaths.

  5. How does your body feel now? Do you feel calm or would you like to take another five?

Watch the video for a demonstration:



  • The best time to practice the Take 5 Breathing Exercise, or any calm down method, is when everyone is happy and no one feels stressed. Children find it hard to learn or use these techniques when they are already overwhelmed by big feelings (so do adults!) and it is important that we don’t force, push or demand that children use a ‘calm down’ method. The last thing our children need is pressure to succeed at relaxing! Letting a poster or picture act as a reminder rather than verbally telling our children what to do when they are feeling overcome with emotion and stress can be more effective.

  • While Take 5 Breathing addresses the stress response, our children need to know that their big feelings are important and we do want to hear what is going on for them. There is a difference clamping up and shutting our feelings away and calming down so that we can talk about our feelings and express them in a safe way. If children feel angry, hurt or worried, their feelings will probably still be there once they have calmed down. That makes it the perfect time to connect, reassure and listen to your children.
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