Check out this article from Parents.com to learn on best ways to navigate post pandemic life with your kids.
Shanaz Ikonne was featured in recent article by Cynthia J. Drake
Why I'm Not Worried My Son Gave Up His Favorite Activity Because of COVID | Parents
Why I'm Not Worried My Son Gave Up His Favorite Activity Because of COVIDMy son's karate dreams were cut short during the pandemic. Now, he doesn't show any interest in getting back into his once favorite activity. Experts say that's totally OK, but offer advice on what parents in my situation should do.
By Cynthia J. Drake
April 29, 2021
CREDIT: ILLUSTRATION: KAILEY WHITMAN.In the year before the pandemic hit, in every free moment he had, my then-9-year-old son, August, was learning basic Japanese vocabulary and cramming for his next karate belt test. In line at grocery stores and before bedtime, he practiced his kata moves over and over for us before finally flopping on his bed, excited energy still coursing through his limbs.
"What will you say when I get a black belt, Mommy?" he loved to ask. Slow to take to traditional sports or extracurricular activities, he was taking pride in his achievements and we were elated to witness him finally finding his "spark."
Cut to one year later: the community recreation center dojo my son attended is gone; his karate instructor has retired. His gi (uniform) hangs in the closet, likely too small now. The martial arts-themed cookie cutters I bought to celebrate his next belt achievement are unopened from their original box when I purchased them in March 2020: the month when everything would change for everyone, everywhere.
Parents have suffered significant hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, grieving the loss of family members and friends, jobs, and a general sense of normalcy. My son's loss of karate—not the setbacks to my own career—most often brought me to tears. Of course, it hasn't been easy on our kids either.
"The overall theme for the clients that I've seen is grieving the loss of connection," says Shanaz Ikonne, LPC, NCC, a licensed professional counselor and registered play therapist in Austin, Texas, who focuses on children and families of color. "Even though children are resilient, they are social beings, and so they long for that interaction."
And grief and loss aren't the same for everyone. "For the BIPOC community during COVID, there's also stressors related to racial tension that can also be a factor in internalizing more isolation or feelings of loss or grief," says Ikonne.
With the arrival of vaccines comes hope for families to rebuild their routines and regain some of that longed-for connection and interaction in the upcoming months. But after more than a year of dealing with upended lives, many of us are probably wondering, how? Experts offer some ways to support our kids as they reemerge after more than a year of pandemic life.
Don't PushSome children may be ready to jump back into their favorite sport, but many may not be as eager to dive into the activities they loved pre-COVID. Though August initially missed karate and asked about it often at the beginning of the pandemic, at this point, he has stopped mentioning it at all.
"It's super common, and it's normal for children to pivot toward new interests," Ikonne says, particularly following a year or more away from their old former activities. During that time, kids have likely been exposed to new activities through social media or television and may be ready to shift gears.
Rather than putting too much emphasis on old activities if your child isn't feeling up to them, parents can encourage their kids to try out a couple of new options, advises Ikonne. Taking trial classes is a great way to boost their confidence for a small investment of time and money. Keep an open dialogue about what's working best for your child, acknowledging that it can be hard to try new things, but it can also be very rewarding.
And remember, there's nothing wrong with taking it slow. "There is a feeling of, we're ready to be done and once this is over, we'll be better. Give yourself permission to realize we can pace ourselves," says Lori Baudino, Psy.D., BC-DMT, a child psychologist based in Los Angeles. For example, you don't have to dive into an eight-hour playdate if you're not ready for it. "It's being aware of making space to come back to the home and come back to the quiet time, to have that balance as we re-enter," adds Dr. Baudino.
Create New RitualsChildren also thrive with consistency and predictability. That's part of the reason many of us (parents included) suffered during the pandemic. Experts say to look for ways to create routines or rituals in your daily life, especially as things start to reopen.
That can be a family game night or picnic, or it can be as simple as a regular morning cuddle on the couch before school. Maybe it's a weekly family bike ride to kickstart a return to physical activity.
"Rituals give [kids] a bridge to go out into the world, into a place that has been told to them that there's been a threat, but now we're telling them that it's safe," says Dr. Baudino. "But they have to work out that trust. It helps for kids to have some things they always know are the same, things that they can have control over."
Recognize Signs of StrugglePay attention to signs your kid might be having a hard time dealing with a shift back to normalcy. For younger children, Ikonne says symptoms like reverting back to thumb-sucking or bedwetting that persist longer than two weeks might indicate a need for some therapy. With elementary-age children, parents might see increased irritability, nightmares, avoidance of school, withdrawing from friendships, or their child might have more frequent physical complaints, such as increased headaches or stomach aches.
Oftentimes, kids who struggled before the pandemic are likely to have more pronounced symptoms of anxiety during and post-pandemic, according to the therapists. But don't be concerned if your child doesn't show any outward symptoms of anxiety or loss. Just like parents, some of them will take the changes in stride—particularly if that's what they see modeled for them.
"As parents, as we get back to this new norm, modeling the regulation for our children is key," says Ikonne. "Our children will follow our reactions. If you're caught up in the news all day or you're on your phone all day or talking about COVID a lot, that can create some dysregulation. If you're calm and collected and sharing facts in an age-appropriate way, reassuring them that things are going to be better, that'll create a positive outlook for the child."
Have Open ConversationsIt can be healthy to acknowledge what was lost during the pandemic, and to talk through it with your kids. And always validate their feelings. Andrea Purrenhage, a mom of two in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, whose son missed out in a starring role in a local production of James and the Giant Peach, recalls him asking her, "Mom, tell me the truth: nothing is going to be normal again, is it?"
They worked through their shared sense of fear of the unknown together and he eventually came to feel grateful for the experience of being in theater, as well as the opportunity to create new family memories during COVID.
Focus on the PositivesI try not to write off the entire year as a loss. My younger son, whose entire kindergarten year took place virtually, learned the ins and outs of Zoom calls, how to submit his homework digitally, how to raise his hand and wait for the teacher to call on him out of 20-some Brady Bunch-style boxes each containing a wiggly 5-year-old.
"I would love that to be celebrated more—the patience, the resilience, all these skills they were learning, but they really got to use them during this time," says Dr. Baudino. "There's a sort of huge awareness that was given to all of us, and I don't want that to be lost on anyone."
In my case, we may not return to karate, but as my kids and I begin to think through future options, I'm grateful that we will approach our choices with greater intention and a sense of what is really important. And I know that eventually the spark will come back in its own way, for all of us.
We’ve all heard the phrase “in order to make friends you must be friendly” and while this may be true to an extent friendship are built on much more then friendliness.
Relationships can be challenging especially since it requires at least two people to make it work. I’m not just talking about romantic relationships but also platonic ones.
I’ve heard clients ask me where to meet people and how to develop a support network. I often suggest they find friends while doing the things they love. Enjoy reading? Join a book club. Love hiking? Join a walking group. Want to increase your spiritual support? Join a local church group, get the point? Finding people doing the things you love will often create a common backbone to kick off the new friendship. You can also check out meet.com or volunteer at your favorite charity to meet new people.
Friendships take time, endure hardships, joys, challenges, rainy days, and sunny ones too that blossom over time. Friendships sometimes last a season or a life time depending on the people and the foundation of the friendships.
It’s safe to safe that most healthy relationships are built on trust and respect. Without those two pillars the relationship will hit rocky ground and collapse, leaving one resentful, bitter, and bruised.
How do you keep friendships that stand the test of time?
Patience. Relationships require patience, it ebbs and flows with life’s journey. Patience is a key element because without it your relationship won’t grow, be tested in fiery circumstances, and come out as pure gold. Patience will ultimately determine the length of your relationship, and if your friendship will stay together or fall apart.
Forgive. People make mistakes and having the courage to apologize, communicate and resolve issues will allow the relationship to grow stronger.
Support the Movement. If you have friends that aren’t supportive or encouraging of your life decisions, relationships, work goals, etc it can be hard to feel supported leaving you feel resentful or doubtful.
Communication. Whether you call or text everyday or once a month, keep the communication flowing on both ends. You shouldn't be the only one reaching out and neither should they. If you’re not in the loop of their lives how can they be in the loop of yours? Communication creates a sense of support, unconditional regard, and allows people to feel loved and valued. If you don’t communicate or get to busy set up monthly check in’s on your phone/calendar. Use assertive communication with a neutral tone and open body language with “I” statements. “I felt sad when you didn’t show up to my show” or “I feel neglected when you _______” Being able to state your needs and wants while respecting theirs will allow the friendship to feel nourished and safe.
Appreciation. If they are important let them know. Send them a message that you are thinking of them, or a card in the mail. Who doesn’t love a little appreciation? It goes a long way and when reciprocated makes a difference on rough days.
Loyalty. A loyal friend does not always have to agree with you, but at the end of the day we all want that friend that holds us down and keeps us grounded. Loyal friends are supportive and care for you. They have the right words to say or can simply just listen, and stand by your side in all circumstances. They don’t ask for a payback or have an ulterior motive. They are there because they care and in return you do the same. Your success is their success and vice versa.
Honesty. Relationship beg for honesty in the good times and not so great times. Self-respect and being trust worthy are some of the most important things in friendships. An honest friend that stands with you at every stage in life is dependable. Honesty decreases stress and anxiety. Telling the truth increases personal relationships and social interactions. Being honest in the relationship will help you feel open with each other and strength the relationship.
Enjoy the relationship and remember everyday is a new opportunity to grow.
8 week class designed for teen females and parents. Group will meet once a week and discuss various topics.
Our high school girls' groups (8 week class) help teens manage the stress that comes with high school and find balance with their academic, work/extracurricular life in addition to family, sports, and social commitments. High school is a time when youth are trying to find their identity, purpose, and interests while having a demanding class schedule and the expectations of parents, teachers and peers can become overwhelming; our group provides a safe platform for young women to share their experiences and learn from each other in a safe, non-judgmental and supportive yet collaborative environment. This group will give your teen a solid foundation to develop healthy relationships, build a sense of empowerment, a strong sense of self, ability to learn boundaries and manage stress and implement coping strategies for dealing with daily challenges high school and teen life can bring. Begins February 2018. Contact Shanaz Ikonne, LPC, NCC at firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Parent support groups help parents recharge and reorganize their lives with gaining new tools for understanding their child/teen’s behaviors. Parent groups meet once a week for 8 weeks to learn how to have a deeper relationship with their children/teens. This group is designed for busy parents that need additional support from others to learn, grow, and gain new skills to help them have an abundant life. This group rotates and is available year-round. Evening hours available. Contact Shanaz Ikonne, LPC, NCC at email@example.com Group begins February 2018.
Teen Girls Group (Ages 13-17)
Depression & Anxiety
8 weekly classes structured for your teen
Weekly support & group counseling:
· Confidential sessions
· $75/session-materials included
· Teen group begins February 8th , & parent support group February 13, 2018.
· Early Registration $10 off before (01/30/17)
Contact UsHill Country Therapy & Testing
1021 Ranch Rd 620 S B, Lakeway, TX 78734
Register by phone or email.
If you are experiencing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and mood issues please know you are not alone.
1. Set your Goals
First you must understand what you want to achieve and work towards for 2018. If you set goals last year and fell short don’t worry because this is a new year and new you. Be proactive and do a personal inventory of what you want your new year to look like. Want to set healthy boundaries? Want to increase time management or lose weight? Want to decrease anxiety and depression? Make a list of all the items you want to make better in your life and select the top 3 to focus your time and energy. Making a concrete list will help you internalize the goal and visualize yourself reaching it including the necessary steps to achieve greatness. Afterwards see step #2. If you pushed through all 3 goals before 2019 go back to the list and repeat.
2. Be Specific
Don’t sell yourself short and be vague. “I want to lose weight” but “I want to increase in strength and lift/squat 15 pounds more or “I want to walk 20 minutes each evening with my partner” or “I want to learn coping strategies when depression slips in” or “I want to start saving for retirement and will save X% each paycheck for my 401K.” Get it? Be specific and SMART. This means that they are specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely. The most important part of setting SMART goals is being specific. You can’t reach your goals if you are being vague with what you want to accomplish. Instead of setting a goal such as “save money” you need to know how much you are going to save, and then you need to know how you are going to save that amount. If you aren’t sure go to mint.com and see how much you spend, where it is going and it will categorize it for you in simple terms, then see how much money you have left over after paying bills and set a budget. If you still are having issues meet with a financial advisor and set goals. It has to be measurable and realistic to accomplish in one year.
3. Know Your Why
Why are you picking this goal? What motivates you to achieve it and put in time and planning into it daily? Is it because it is trending? Is it pressure from a co-worker and family member? Knowing your why will save you time and energy because if you don’t understand your why then you will fall short otherwise when things get tough you will get discouraged. Hard work requires sacrifice, patience, and planning. In life there are good days, in life there are bad days. You give up something to get something but knowing the why will keep the momentum. Some people don’t want to comprise anything today. If you want to set time for the gym it means sleeping in earlier or re-arranging your schedule.
4. Make a Plan
This is your cue to action. Once you identified your goals for your transformation put in on paper/laptop and get to it. Make a plan for how you will accomplish it. What will you do each month, each week, and each day to get you closer and make progress on your goals? You’ll want to work your way backwards and know exactly what you need to do. Also setting time i.e Sunday evenings or spending time Monday mornings to prep for your week will help you have a clear vision in your steps to success.
5. Act on It!
Start with action. If you don’t work on your goals each day you won’t reach them. If you are having trouble and need help reach out to professionals such as personal trainers, licensed mental health clinicians, financial advisors, and others that can help you reach your physical, emotional/mental goals and financial goals, etc.
Meal prep to save time and get the proper nutrients. Using myfitnesspal and other smart phone applications can help make life easier.
Surrender to your Higher Power. Understand that your burdens are not yours to carry and that He can sustain you and help you reach your full potential.
Learn from failures. Yoda said “failure the best teacher is” So don’t sweat the small stuff when you are having a tough day. Continue to push through and “pray until something happens”
Find a support group for accountability, a walking group, or join a group class for additional support. Austin Parks and Recreational has a list of free fitness classes. Also check out www.AA.org for free addiction recovery groups.
Make your calendar or smart phone calendar your BFF. Be sure to schedule down time for self-care to recharge your batteries. You can’t fill someone else’s up when yours is empty.
Learn to say no. As uncomfortable as it may seem setting limits for yourself will help you increase efficiency in your tasks and more time to do the things you love like spending time with family, reading a new book, or volunteering for an organization you love.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Having a hard time or losing motivation? Reach out to your support system or find a mentor to help your motivation last well into 2019. Tedtalks are great tools for boosting knowledge in areas that interest you.
Find a therapist that can help you with time skills, coping strategies, &, stress management, and learn how to increase emotional wellness.
Stay hydrated, eat nutritionally dense foods to fuel your energy, and breathe. You GOT THIS!
Remember each day is a new beginning and if you believe you can do it with God’s help, 2018 will be next level living. Cheers and Happy New Year!
Shanaz Ikonne, LPC, NCC at Hill Country Therapy and Testing 469-626-9085
How to Protect Your Progress.
Protect my progress? What does that look like or mean? Protecting your progress means taking active measures in your recovery. Each day you pick sobriety or relapse. Here are 10 simple steps to consider and be mindful of to avoid relapse.
Blessed Assurance, November 2
I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5.
We have but one life to live, and through our daily connection with God we have, in and through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ, a constant sustenance in doing the things that will represent Christ to the world. We may not have all the conveniences that some have in ease and comfort and in earthly goods, but we have the blessed assurance which Christ gave to His believing disciples.... To them He said, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3)....
Blessed words! We may receive Him into our hearts, and He will be unto us hope and courage and sustaining grace. The Lord would have us trust fully and entirely in Him. Then we will, in the simplicity of our faith, believe that Christ will do for us all that He has promised. Let all come to the Saviour in the full assurance that He will do all that He has promised.
We cannot please our Saviour more than by having faith in His promises. His mercies can come to you, and your prayers can come to Him. Nothing can break this line of communication. We must learn to bring all perplexities to Jesus Christ, for He will help us. He will listen to our requests. We may come to Him in full assurance of faith, nothing doubting, for He is the living Way....
The more we press our petitions to His throne, the more sure we are of constantly receiving the great grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. You do not give strength to the road you are traveling by [having] faith. But you increase in strength and in assurance because you have a Guide right by your side, and you can ask Him with perfect faith to guide your steps aright.
Then trust in the Lord Jesus to lead you step by step into the right path. You can derive assurance and strength at every step you advance, for you can be assured that your hand is in His hand. You can “run and not be weary”; you can “walk and not faint,” for you can realize by faith that you have your hand in the hand of Christ. You will not sink under discouragement, for as you follow on to know the Lord, trusting in Him, you will have the assurance that the One who never forsakes those who fully trust Him is your constant Helper.—Letter 313, November 2, 1905, to Mabel White, her 19-year-old granddaughter.
Blessed Assurance, November 2
Remember to use coping skills when feeling overwhelmed but also know that God is your source of strength and will guide you and lead you along each path.
Research has shown the cultivating the attitude of gratitude and thanks will benefit your mental well being and often serve as a way to understand your blessings. When clients are feeling upset, sad, and lonely I ask them to start a gratitude journal and have them write down 5 things they are grateful for that day i.e. waking up, having their health, family, support, and clothes. Something as simple as 5 things a day has increased self-esteem and positive regard. I also ask clients to make the list and carry it with them and add to it each day. This serves as a reminder of life and how much they have to be thankful for each day. I ask them to reflect on the items written down and process their thoughts and feelings about it in session.
1. Dark chocolate-pure coco, not sugar or milk. 2-3 tablespoons of pure coco powder have higher anti oxidants. More flavonoids found in dark chocolate
2. Fish-salmon, herring, tuna, omega 3 fatty acids, one serving a week helps with brain functioning bc it coats neurons. Helps keep them lubricated.
3. Leafy greens-cabbage, romaine, spinach, memory and recall, B6, B12, iron, breaks down homocysteine levels
4. Nuts and seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts, etc-omega 3 and 6, B6, natural anti-depressants
5. Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries help with memory