The PBIS World Book

Deep Breathing

Why should I do it:

  • Students can get overwhelmed easily
  • Many students want to be successful but haven’t yet developed all the skills which can lead to anxiety/frustration
  • Provides an easy and quick break in place
  • Easy to do anywhere at any time
  • Quiet and non-disruptive
  • Easy to perform and learn at any age
  • Can be done for short or long periods
  • Can be done individually or as a group
  • Produces relaxed state of being
  • Is calming
  • Increases oxygen to the brain, muscles, and body, which improves thinking, reaction time, and decision making

When should I do it:

  • When you see a student becoming frustrated (banging things, groaning, crying, refusing to do work)
  • When a student is involved in a mild confrontation with another student
  • When student has a lot of work to do
  • When a student appears anxious or upset
  • When a student’s emotions or mood are escalated
  • When students need to focus and attend
  • After students have been working for a long time
  • When students are fighting or arguing
  • Before stressful events or periods, like tests, final exams, speeches, etc

How do I do it:

  • Teach the technique to the entire class and practice it
  • List the strategy on a poster with several other relaxation techniques, and post this in the class where all can see
  • Teach students what feelings to be aware of and what they feel like, which can be addressed through deep breathing
  • Assure student that everyone gets stressed/frustrated/worried/ overwhelmed and using relaxation strategies is normal
  • Teach the student to know what they do (indicators or antecedents) when they are stressed/frustrated/worried/overwhelmed (some common answers are: clench fists, breathe heavily, cry, sweat)
  • Teach students that when they demonstrate the above behaviors, to stop, ask to sit outside the room or put head down at desk, and take five or more deep breathes
  • Practice the first time with student or class
  • Students may count while they exhale
  • Try teaching students to cover their ears with their hands and imagine that each inhale is a wave rolling up the shore of a tropical beach, and each exhale is the wave rolling back out

Resources & Support for technique: