Teaching Children to Stop, Breath, and Listen

Integrating a mantra or phrase, such as “stop, breath, listen” into your child’s life can support them to develop tools to navigate their own emotions in moments of conflict, confusion, or emotional overwhelm.

As they develop an understanding of the three parts, you can use the phrase to redirect your younger child in challenging moments.  You can very simply introduce the phrase at several “meetings” or playdates with your child through playful discovery exercises such as the ones below.

1. Stop

  • Ask: what does stop mean? Ask him to show you. Ask her when it is good to stop

  • Play a stop/ go game like “Simon Says”  or freeze dance for a concrete experience of what stop means in a way that is playful.


  • Ask: Can you feel your breath? Is your breath fast or slow?

  • Invite her to feel her breath while sitting, then to stand up, jump or run fast for one minute. Invite her back to her breath. Ask: what do you notice?

  • Notice your child’s breath. When they are upset, you can say, ‘I see you are breathing fast.’ When they are tired, you can say “I notice your breathing is slow and quiet.”

  • Make noises together: Breath like a lion, breath like a snake. Play is an excellent way to discover things.

3. Listen

  • Ask :What does it mean to listen? How do we listen? What do you hear right now?

  • In your day to day life help your child to notice what he/she hears. On a walk, making dinner, ask: “What do you hear?”

  • After a conflict with someone, invite your child to listen to the other person’s experience.

© Traci Childress, 2013.

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2 comment(s) on “Teaching Children to Stop, Breath, and Listen

  • Are you doing any childcare workshops in NY area any time soon? I REALLY want to take one & I can’t find any anywhere. ;))
    (Missed the one at Omega in Aug 2013- just seeing it now.)

    Thanks! Hope you meet you soon.

  • Hi Cara– I would be happy to come to New York– If you have a venue where we could do a weekend workshop, please do be in touch! Warmly, Traci

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