Most parents know that the pandemic has affected the behavior of their children, creating anxiety, depression and an increase in screen use among kids.
Here are some tips on how to undo the bad habits that may have been adopted by you and your kids during the pandemic—and breathwork experts Bryant Wood and Frank Elaridi have answered some of our pressing questions.
1. I am a queer mother and single parent. My youngest child (6.y.o.) hyperventilates/gasps for air when she talks — it is like an emotional tic that sounds like anxiety but I cannot work out what she is anxious about. What breathwork exercise can I do to break her of this habit?
Bryant Wood: Check in and see if she needs anything for her body: sleep, food, water, or a hug. This will help calm her mind. Then, you can suggest for her to slow down her breath to one full breath every 10 seconds, putting emphasis on the exhalation. This will help access the parasympathetic part of her nervous system and keep her balanced and calm.
2. My kids spend all their time on their screens. I don’t think it is good for them and seems to be making them depressed and easily triggered into a tantrum when they don’t get their own way.
Frank Elaridi: There are plenty of studies that have shown the negative psychological effects of too much screen time on both children and adults. It’s way too easy to turn to the phone the second a kid feels bored, so the key is to create choices for them. Give your children options of other things to do depending on their ages: sports, outdoor activities, friend hangouts, and meditation apps are all helpful options.
It’s also important to lead by examples. It’s difficult for children to listen to you telling them to put their tablets way when you have your phone in your hands, and it just gives them an opportunity to call you out on the hypocrisy. It’s not easy, because as an adult we generally need to stay connected to our phones for work and all the planning we are responsible for, but try taking baby steps by turning your notifications off. From there you can ease into turning the phone on airplane mode when you are eating or doing any activity together with your kids. Leading by example is hugely underrated.
Bryant: In a consumer economy, it is so important for kids to double down on their self-worth. Find what they love to do and empower them to do that. Make sure you compliment their internal beauty and build them from the inside out, and they won’t be as easily manipulated by the internet.
3. When my kids act out or misbehave it’s sometimes hard for me to not overreact and keep my cool. Sometimes I say things I wish I didn’t. What’s a good exercise for me to do each day to keep calm?
Bryant: Children are affected mostly by the behaviors of their parents, not the actual words themselves. So it’s important to embody the goodness that you wish for them. If you find yourself easily triggered that’s okay, but do whatever you can on a regular basis to feel peaceful and happy. Find some beauty in nature and spend time there. This will help you come back to the center. If you can feel the sun on your skin or hug a tree that’s a bonus.
Frank: The good news is that you’re aware you are doing it. We are most in our power when we switch from being a person who reacts to a person who responds. When you say something you wish you would not have said, it comes from a reactive place, so when you feel this happening, make the conscious decision not to react and instead turn your attention to your breath. It’s easier said than done but after a dozen times it becomes a habit. When your kids act out, take three 4-7-8 breaths where you inhale for 4 long seconds through the nose, hold it for 7 and slowly release it through the nose for 8 seconds. From this space, RESPOND to the situation calmly. That doesn’t mean you can’t send them to their rooms or do whatever you feel is an appropriate disciplinary action, but do it calmly and from a place of power not reactiveness.
Another thing you might try is to have a phrase you repeat to yourself when you feel you are about to explode or react negatively and lose control. My favorite one is from A Course in Miracles and I use it often. When someone pushes your buttons, say “it is not this I would look upon. I trust my brother (or kids, or sister or whatever) who is one with me.”
4. Since the pandemic my whole family seems to have developed anxiety symptoms, depression and brain fog, often being unable to go to sleep or oversleeping. We are all easily irritated by simple things and each other. How can breathwork help us?
Bryant: Breathwork is a powerful and simple tool to get rid of brain fog, depression and anxiety. I would recommend 3 minutes of straw breathing 5 times a day as a tool you and your family can use together and on your own. Breathe in and out through pursed lips very slowly. Feel yourselves come back to your body and release the stress or tension that you may be feeling. It takes an effort to let go of the worry, but you will gain back a lot when you make space for these practices.
About the Experts
Bryant Wood (also known as “iKAR”-The one who touches the sky) is a global traveler who has immersed himself in enriching experiences with the goal bring something authentically his own into the world. He is a Master Breathwork instructor, and is currently certified as a Priest, NLP Practitioner, Pranashamanic Yoga, believer in Inclusive Mindlfulness, Motivational coach, and Mental Health Consultant certified through Kindred.
He’s studied in Buddhist Sanghas, learned from Sufi mystics, participated in week-long rituals with Ancient African IFA high priests, immersed himself in Tibetan Buddhism Tantra, and has sat and meditated and collaborated with some of the most famous Gurus of our time. He believes in direct experience through wisdom, and beautifying this world through play, diversity, and knowledge. In his own words, “everyone is welcome at the table because the ones we haven’t made a place for in the past are the ones that we have the most to learn from. Now is a good time to listen”.
Bryant has given away all his belongings three times to completely focus on the present moment and be free to go where he is meant to. This has led him to teach thousands of people the power of breathwork, movement, and self-healing styles in all circles; from catholic high schools, Pro athletes, to Alzheimer’s special care retirement homes. He has done all this while living by the moto “No one gets left behind.”
Bryant uses his wide range of skills from many offerings to hold sacred space rituals, workshops and retreats around the world. Some of his past partnerships have included HBO, Spotify, Younga, United Nations and Daily Yoga App. You can see him on the upcoming second season of the Netflix show The Circle, sharing his knowledge of the breath.
Currently Bryant is launching his Breathwork teacher training, Working with his 1:1 clients, and is in high demand to speak and share his wisdom. He is 1 of 3 of the Modern Nirvana team that is fully devoted to paving the way for a more enlightened world.
Covering everything from Syrian refugee camps to the Academy Awards, Frank Elaridi is a 4-time Emmy-Award-Winning Journalist working mostly for ABC Network News. He can also be seen on Good Morning America and ABC’s digital platforms, most notably giving viewers a backstage look into Dancing With The Stars.
Frank is immersed in the world of biohacking, acting as a guinea pig for wellness companies, and sharing the best of what he’s learned with his followers and clients. He is also a certified Emotion Code Practitioner, helping clients release negative trapped emotions from the body, which allows for healthier relationships, removal of blocks in health and career, and creates space for new opportunities. Frank is also a Mental Health Consultant certified through Kindred.
Frank created a YouTube channel focused on spirituality and health. Now called Modern Nirvana, the Youtube channel covers everything from people who have tapped into their pineal gland (third eye) and can still see while completely blindfolded to the “real-life Thor” taking a DNA test. There you’ll also find his journey with plant medicine (ayahuasca) in Costa Rica, stem cell surgery to treat a shoulder injury, breaking the matrix with Kat and Bryant using a quantum app, cooking competitions, meditations and interviews with Deepak Chopra, and so much more!