Having a toddler is a wonderful yet equally intense period. With so many learning, there comes tons of emotional moments that can be challenging for them to process. My youngest goes through many of these emotional ups and downs as she is trying to process her feelings and one thing that has been helping her a lot (usually post-meltdown) is deep breathing, so I was thrilled to see these techniques highlighted in the new kids’ book, My Magic Breath.
Written by Nick Ortner and Alison Taylor, My Magic Breath is an interactive picture book that helps children to process their emotions and consciously breathe through the moment to help find calm. Accompanied by Michelle Polizzi’s whimsical watercolors, this new release provides simple prompts to inspire conversation between the parent/educator and child about how they feel as well as how to find peace in tapping into their mindful, magic breath. In our latest interview, we chatted with Nick Ortner to discuss the book and learn more about mindful breathing techniques for children.
Interview with Nick Ortner of My Magic Breath
Weekend Jaunts: Tell us about the inspiration behind My Magic Breath.
Nick Ortner: I’d say my biggest inspiration behind My Magic Breath is my 3-year-old daughter, June. Sometimes it can be difficult when you learn all of these healing and stress-relieving techniques as an adult, but don’t exactly know how to teach them to your children. So I love to develop tools like children’s books, kids tapping videos, and such to help reach our kids, making learning fun and enjoyable for them.
Weekend Jaunts: I’ve started to read it with my 3-year-old and she loves the breathing exercise. Did you always want to write about mindfulness for children?
Nick Ortner: My interest in helping children began when I started tapping one-on-one with clients. It became easily apparent how many of our adult issues had their roots in childhood experiences. But in 2012, the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT was a real eye-opener, and very personal to me because I lived in the next town over. I saw the loss and grief of those affected, but also witnessed the strength, resilience, and deep healing that took place through using Tapping and other mindfulness techniques like breathing exercises. It also made it very apparent how much our children need to learn and use these mindfulness techniques today.
Weekend Jaunts: How else can we teach kids about the mind-body connection?
Nick Ortner: I think the first step is learning more about it ourselves, digging deeper, and using techniques like Tapping, mindfulness breathing, and meditation routinely. We can’t teach what we don’t know, right? The number one way kids learn is by observing those around them. When we become more familiar with the concepts and actually experience the shifts in energy and emotions ourselves, then we can talk to our kids in ways they can better understand. Our bodies instinctively know how to get back into balance. We just have to teach our kids what the body is actually doing so that they grow up with the mind-body connection as common knowledge.
Weekend Jaunts: What do you hope readers and kids will get from the book?
Nick Ortner: I’m really hoping that kids will begin to learn how to develop their emotional intelligence, which means talking about their feelings, and working through them in more positive & healing ways. So much of our society is solely focused on intellectual intelligence, but it’s the emotional connection with ourselves and others that really breathe color, enjoyment, and happiness into our lives. The earlier we can teach our children this, the more fulfilling their lives will be.
Weekend Jaunts: 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.
Weekend Jaunts: 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?
Nick Ortner: 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 torelax the body, calm stress signals and find balance in our lives!
Weekend Jaunts: What’s next for you?
Nick Ortner: My family and my team at The Tapping Solution are always looking ahead to develop new tools to help those who need it most, while continuing to spread the word about Tapping. We’ve got some really cool things we’re working on right now like a new Tapping Meditation App, along with some awesome surprises for next year’s Tapping World Summit.
Find MY MAGIC BREATH Finding Calm Through Mindful Breathing at your local bookstore.