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Flower Petal Breathing: A Strategy for Student Self-Regulation

Before we get started, go ahead and grab your free Flower Petal Breathing poster here!

Alright, let’s dive in.

Why Breathing Strategies?

Breathing strategies are so useful because they help us to “digest” our emotions.

Let us explain…

Emotions are messengers that communicate between our mind and our body. If we’re in a happy situation, our emotions tell our body to act happy. When we’re in a sad situation, our emotions tell our body to act sad. Emotions allow us to respond to our current situation in a way that makes sense to us based on our perspective and our past experiences.

An example

I see a dog walking towards me. When I was young, I had a bad experience with a dog that looked like this one. Seeing this dog reminds me of that past experience and I start imagining how scary it was. As I’m remembering that past experience, I start to feel scared. My heart starts pumping faster and I get the urge to run away.

My thoughts about my past experience create the emotion messenger of fear. That emotion messenger tells my heart to start pumping blood to my muscles so that I can run away from the perceived danger.

So, the emotion steps are: thought (dogs are scary) > emotion (fear) > reaction (fight or flight)

This is a really helpful process if there’s real danger because it protects me. But, sometimes our current situation is different than our past experiences and the emotions we feel don’t really match up with our reality. 

In this example:

Maybe I don’t have any reason to be afraid of this particular dog because I can see that it is kind, on a leash and can’t hurt me. I don’t like feeling scared when I know logically that there’s no reason to be scared. So, I can use breathing strategies to help “digest” those fear emotions that were pumping through my body so that I can get back to a calm state.


As I use a mindful breathing technique, I’m focusing on my breathing and how it feels in my body. This helps my mind to notice that, in this moment, I’m safe. When my mind recognizes that I’m safe, it sends messages to my body that I’m safe and then my body goes back to a restful (rather than fearful) state.

So the mindful steps are: thought (focusing on the mindful breathing technique) > emotion (safe) > reaction (calm)  

Now, this is just one example but there is a wide spectrum of emotions we feel in the human body and each person’s emotions are triggered by their personal experiences. That means that we each feel different emotions in varying degrees of intensity even if we’re in the exact same situation.

Thoughts Create Emotions

We’re all truly unique and we only have power over our own emotions (no one can make us happy or sad, it’s our THOUGHTS about someone’s actions that create the emotion messengers in our own body).

Learning how emotions work in our bodies and practicing breathing techniques to process these emotions can help students to self-regulate, respond mindfully to challenging situations and advocate for their needs.

One of our favourite breathing strategies is Flower Petal Breathing. First, take the time to teach your students how to do Flower Petal Breathing (explanation below) in an explicit way and practice it often. Repetition is key here!

Then, print this poster and place it in your classroom calm corner, on the wall or in your students’ binders. Wherever works! This poster can serve as a visual tool to help guide students to breathe mindfully when they are experiencing a big emotion to help them return to a calm state.

Trace the flower petals with your finger. Inhale when you trace a petal that says inhale. Exhale when you trace a petal that says exhale. Continue until you feel calm.

Want to learn more about mindful breathing in the classroom?

If you would like to take a deep dive into daily mindful breathing to find calm and focus, sign up for the Educalme Classroom Free Trial!

Give your students the gift of learning mindful strategies for overcoming life’s ups and downs.

Wherever you are in your journey of sharing mindfulness with your students, we’re here to cheer you on and support you!

Email us at [email protected] if you have any questions. We’re here to help and we love hearing from you!

With calm and appreciation,

Kailey & Josianne

Teachers and co-founders of Educalme

P.s. Is it winter where you live? Try Snowflake Breathing!

Share this post on Pinterest so other educators can grab their free Flower Petal Breathing poster too!
mindful breathing classroom
Let us know in the comments, how do you plan to use Flower Petal Breathing in your classroom?

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