Breathe for connection

“I can’t stop crying!”

She’s told me this a lot recently. I generally don’t ask her to. Enough adults struggle to express their feelings. I’m one of them.

But this time I needed her to stop crying. Ophelia had just fallen asleep in the sling on my back and I really didn’t feel prepared to soothe two crying children at once.

We’d left the zoo. On foot because our car is broken. She was on her scooter and we were going uphill, which would have been fine except we’d stayed out too long. We may have had too much sun. I was conscious that we needed to hurry or we’d miss ballet.

It amazes me the leaps my almost-four-year-old’s emotional intelligence has taken. She articulates for me what I can’t discern in times like these: “I *can’t* stop crying.” Can’t. Not won’t.

I put my arms around her, aware that I’m risking waking the fourteen-month-old on my back. It’s a risk worth taking.

“Let’s breathe,” I suggest. We’ve been doing this every now and then. I say breathe in or out and we both do.

We breathe for me as much as for her.

Breathing gives me a chance to stop and think about what’s happening before I react. Sometimes it’s all I need to help me calm down. Particularly if they’re both crying, I need to breathe, to visualise, to pray, because some sort of alarm goes off in my head and renders me anxious, prone to getting shouty.

And her?

When we’d stopped breathing, she wiped her eyes, smiled, got back on her scooter and nearly beat me to the top of that hill.


  1. April 17, 2015 / 11:07 am

    There is so much power in a simple breath isn’t there? We always forget. When either of my children get upset, even though they older, it’s the first thing I say to them – ‘let’s take some deep breaths, in through your nose, now blow it out slowly through your mouth’. So powerful.
    Slummy single mummy recently posted..19 places to visit before you die

  2. April 17, 2015 / 11:17 am

    It’s amazing how quickly little ones recover – one minute they’re blotchy faced and snotty, the next they’re laughing and running! Lovely post xx
    Alison recently posted..22 Things I’ve Learned In My 30s

  3. April 20, 2015 / 5:33 pm

    When my kids hurt themselves and are crying I always tell them to breathe but actually you’ve just reminded me that we should do this together and not just if one of us has grazed our knee. Lovely post xx

  4. April 20, 2015 / 10:25 pm

    Love this. I also ask my daughter to breathe when she gets emotional which is often. I never really thought about it before but it probably is for me as much as it is for her. xx
    Dawn (write mummy write) recently posted..How to work at home with kids

  5. April 24, 2015 / 10:11 pm

    This is a lovely post. My little girl has just started having those kind of episodes where I know she is just in a world of frustration and confusion and fear. It’s awful to watch. I use deep breaths all the time, but will try and get her to practice it too. x

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