Masters Thesis

Diaphragmatic Breathing Training with Young Children: A Feasibility Study

Although early preventive interventions that curtail the negative effects of chronic stress in childhood are needed, few preventive interventions exist for young children. the current study aimed to address this gap by testing the feasibility of a preventive intervention that teaches diaphragmatic breathing, a relaxation technique that counteracts the effects of physiological stress, to four to six-year-old children and their parents in a one-time group session. It was hypothesized that (1) diaphragmatic breathing would be successfully taught to young children and (2) multiple families in one single session, and that (3) parents would react positively regarding the intervention’s feasibility and acceptability. Three parent-child dyads participated, and data were collected at pre-intervention, post-intervention, and two-week follow-up. Parents reported on perceived understanding, acceptability, and feasibility of the intervention, interventionists rated the families’ ability to replicate diaphragmatic breathing, and parents and children rated the children’s social, emotional, and physical functioning. Overall, parents indicated that the intervention is understandable, acceptable for stress management, and feasible to implement, and successfully replicated the diaphragmatic breathing technique. All participants reported improvement in the children’s overall functioning. the present study contributed to existing literature by piloting a novel preventive intervention for young children and uncovering some unique challenges, primarily associated with recruitment, of leading an early childhood preventive intervention in a group format.

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