Are you looking for a way to teach your kids how to be calmer? I know I am. From the minor stresses of life to the large, emotional upheavals of childhood – they need a way to find their calm. We have worked on meditation, Yoga and more. We also practice breathing excersises that can help push those negative thoughts and feelings aside, or at least make them more manageable.
They work for me, and they work for them – when I can encourage them to try. When an email came my way requesting a review for a new children’s book aimed at teaching calmness, I jumped at the chance.
My Magic BreathFinding Calm Through Mindful BreathingBy Nick Ortner and Alison TaylorPictures by Michelle PolizziOn Sale May 15, 2018HARPER | HarperCollins Children’s BooksAges 4-8 | Grades Preschool-3ISBN: 9780062687760, $17.99
I received a copy of the new Children’s Book, “My Magic Breath” in return for my honest and unbiased review. All opinions here are my own. This article may contain affiliate links. For my complete disclosure, please click here.
What is it about?
Teaching calm is an on going process, for both children AND adults. I notice that some days I am off the rails, while other days I can center far more easily – WHEN I remember to breathe. It’s a quick, yet highly effective, strategy for calming down.
Children need this strategy as well and this book can be a powerful tool to help them learn. Written and illustrated in a colorful and engaging manner, each page guides them to ‘Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing’ – and it really works! As the girls and I were reading this book, I was trying not to laugh as I watched them try to blow things off the page.
What did the girls think?
All in all, the girls loved this book. The illustrations are bright and friendly, and the instructions on how to breathe were encouraging without being pushy. They fell all over themselves trying to breathe in and blow the breath back out. Not sure how much ‘calm’ them found in the process, but judging by the laughter, they enjoyed it.
So far, we have read “My Magic Breath” at least 5 times, per their request. My youngest likes it a bit more than my eldest – unless she is the one reading it aloud. She has moved on to chapter books and loves to read to her sister…. unfortunately, her sister doesn’t always like her way of reading.
It truly can teach your kids how to be calmer…
If you have followed this blog for any period of time, then you already know that I am always on the hunt for new tools for my parenting toolbox. This book fits right in and I anticipate many moments when the lessons it teaches will be useful in the future.
Not only is this an interactive children’s book, but it is one that encourages conversations and offers reliable ways to get through those tough moments. It discusses feelings, both good ones and negative ones, how to handle them, and how the simple act of breathing can ease the strain.
Parent take away
Personally, I loved this book. The colors, the words, the multi-racial cast of characters and the easy flow of the narrative. Not only does “My Magic Breath” teach your kids how to be calmer, it teaches YOU how to teach them.
Yesterday, when my eldest was having an emotional moment over something (I can’t even remember what it was about now….) I reminded her about her Magic Breath. It took a few tries and some coaching, but she started to breathe, and she calmed down.
It is perfect for home use and even classroom settings. I know Teacher Appreciation Week is over, but this would still make a great gift for the end of the school year! Or the start of next one.
While this isn’t a read at night book (I tried), it is just too interactive for that, it is still a wonderful book and teaches a valuable lesson.
You can find it on Amazon, the Harper Collins Website or where books are sold starting May 15th, 2018.
From the Publishers – Harper Collins
A conversation with NICK ORTNER and ALISON TAYLOR – Authors of My Magic Breath
How does mindful breathing work?
Mindful breathing is as simple as taking a deep breath, and just noticing that you’re doing it. Bringing awareness to something we do thousands of times a day can be transformative, as it brings us to the present moment and relaxes our body. In this way, mindful breathing is a reminder to pause and think rather than react impulsively. While mindful breathing can allow for individuals to process “negative” feelings, it also gives an opportunity for sincere appreciation and gratitude toward what makes us happy.
Do you think children as young as four can be stressed or struggle with anxieties?
I do, though it might not fit under the preconceived definitions of the word, “stress,” i.e. deadlines, responsibilities and adult problems. Children, as they begin to learn, grow and navigate the world, are faced with their own types of challenges. What often seems like silly reasons to be upset for an adult, i.e. not getting something a child wants, being told “no,” navigating fears of school, etc., are real stressors for children of all ages. On top of that, children have a tendency to “pick up” on adult stressors, sensing a dangerous or overwhelming situation and taking that on as their own stressor. Unfortunately, when something like this is not addressed, children grow with these concerns, which can intensify over time.
How do you hope this book is used? Is your goal for kids to learn how to use their deep breathing to calm themselves or to mentally push away sad thoughts?
My hope is that the book serves two purposes. The first one being the experience of reading the book itself, especially at bedtime, and letting go of any stressor or general anxiety from the day. The book acknowledges that we all have an array of feelings, which are not a bad thing, but we can control how we react or how much we perseverate on something. My second hope for this book is for readers to build a pattern and understanding around the concept of using breathing as a self management tool. It is not necessary to struggle through dinner, bedtime, or sleep, because of an anxiety from earlier that day. I want readers to know that they have the power of using their own “magic breath,” their power to use deep breathing to calm stress signals, at any need throughout the day.
Alison, as an elementary school teacher, have you utilized mindful breathing with your students and, if so, what has been the result?
Absolutely! I’ve found much value in teaching my students to be in control of their thoughts and feelings. Whether through mindful breathing, yoga brain-breaks, or calm places in the classroom to collect one’s thoughts, I’ve found children respond effectively to this principle. I’ve noticed great payback in the classroom from giving students the opportunity to work through their feelings, worries, and anxieties. Even as adults, we have trouble focusing and thinking efficiently if we are preoccupied with an outside worry. Children are the same and benefit from being taught tools to understand how to navigate these situations. It also allows for problem solving and building resilience in children as they can use mindful breathing to calm stress signals and think clearly when a problem or worry arises, instead of shutting down.
Nick, as the author of the New York Times bestseller The Tapping Solution, can you briefly explain what tapping is and the role mindful breathing has within it?
Tapping, also known as EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), is a powerful holistic healing technique that has been proven to effectively resolve a range of issues, including stress, anxiety, phobias, emotional disorders, chronic pain, addiction, weight control, and limiting beliefs, just to name a few.
Tapping therapy is based on the combined principles of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. Tapping with the fingertips on specific meridian endpoints of the body, while focusing on negative emotions or physical sensations, helps to calm the nervous system, rewire the brain to respond in healthier ways, and restore the body’s balance of energy.
Tapping involves mindful breathing in its opening and closing moments and both techniques work to relax the body, calm stress signals and find balance in our lives!
About the Authors
Nick Ortner is dedicated to sharing the power of our breath to transform kids and adults alike. This is his second children’s book; his first was The Big Book of Hugs. He is also the New York Times bestselling author of The Tapping Solution, The Tapping Solution for Pain Relief, and The Tapping Solution for Manifesting Your Greatest Self. Nick lives in Newtown, Connecticut, with his wife and his daughter, June. You can find Nick at www.nickortner.com.
Alison Taylor is an elementary school teacher and coauthor of The Big Book of Hugs. She writes to inspire young people, especially her beloved June and Harris, to find what makes them happy.
About the Illustrator
Michelle Polizzi is an illustrator and designer living and working in California. This is her second book working alongside Nick Ortner. She lives in the East Bay with her sons, River and Rowan; her husband, Nick; and their beloved Frenchie, Oscar, where they spend their days inspiring one another. You can see more of her work at www.designbylovelyday.com.