Dancing Into Parenthood

How to Support your Child this New School Year

September 16th, 2020   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

Many parents want to know how they can possibly help their child have the best school year under the current situation with the Pandemic. Many children are feeling anxious and I want parents to understand this is completely normal.

When children feel anxious they may have some clues that parents can chime in on. Some kids may feel afraid to leave there home and ask to stay at home. Children may show signs of anxiety when there is a change in their sleeping habits. For example some kids will start having a hard time falling asleep when they did not in the past or some will wake up in the middle of the night to creep in and sleep with parents. Other children may have a change in their appetite. They may want to eat less or more. Some children will prefer eating comfort foods. Another sign that your child may be anxious is refusing to separate from their parents.

It is really important to have age appropriate conversations with your children about what the new school year will look like. Prepare your children for the new school schedule and using the appropriate technology. Let them know what the classroom would look like with social distancing. Prepare your child for wearing a mask. Try different masks to see which is most comfortable. Try mask meditations on You tube.

Motivate your kids by trying something new and fun together, at my house we created a vision board with beautiful affirmations. It was a fun family night! I would recommend this for any age group and for the parents themselves. Get some magazines and look for positive words or pictures and make a vision board together. I also suggest taking walks to school so that the child can see the school and ask your child about fun memories.

Kids who will continue remote learning need to continue the school routine. Wake up each morning at the same time, get dressed for remote learning and have breakfast before logging on. Schedule 1:1 meetings with their teacher and with classmates. Perhaps they can have play dates at the park with classmates.

Family Screen Time Contracts

August 10th, 2020   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

Living in this day and age we know that technology is here to stay. With parents working from home and children learning at home screen time has definitely increased. We all feel the guilt of allowing our children to be on the screen more than we know is healthy for them. It has been a tool that parents have used in order to get some work done at home during the pandemic and it’s a tool that we have to use wisely. Unfortunate we know that unlimited use of technology can have a negative effect on a child’s emotional intelligence, temperament and social development.

With the increase in screen time we have to consider the content that our children are exposed to and also the people they may be exposed to. With the rise in child predators searching for victims online this scares the socks off me! We have to make our children aware of their own safety online. This may be a challenging discussion to have with your little ones but we cannot ignore the fact that child exploitation is occurring.

Family screen time contracts are very necessary and I would encourage you to sit down as parents and decide what should be included for your own family. My suggestions are to make them age appropriate because a contract for a 4 year old looks very different than a 12 year old’s contract.

What you should include in a family screen time contract is:

  1. School nights & week Nights
  2. Weekends & Holidays
  3. Travel Vacations
  4. Screen time Blackouts (for example family meals)
  5. Device storage and charging
  6. Screen Time Privilege (devices shouldn’t be available until chores and school work are completed)
  7. Alternatives to Screen Time (exercise, music, art, reading etc…)
  8. Web Use and Passwords
  9. Social Media Behavior ( conduct online: never sharing personal information, photos should not be shared without parental permission, never meeting someone online in person, not engaging in online bullying, etc…
  10. Consequence if contact is broken

It’s also a good idea to re-review the contract and make edits as needed, every 6 months at a minimum. There are many contract ideas that may be downloaded online if you need some guidance, I found one on psychologytoday.com and imom.com that I found useful. You should customize the contract for your family’s needs but use samples as guidance.

August National Breastfeeding Month

August 3rd, 2020   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

Hello Mamas! Whether you are expecting a baby or have a baby at home you should know that August is National Breastfeeding Month! Many moms find breastfeeding challenging. For me it was a little bit of a challenge too. You can prepare all you want prior to the arrival of a baby but it’s when the baby arrives that it all becomes real.

I remember having the breastfeeding consultant come into my room to help me with my first feeding and my son seemed to be really sleepy and uninterested. We could not coax him into latching on and I instantly felt worried that he was not going to get the nutrition that he needed. Next attempt with the lactation consultant he was feisty and moving his head all around and he just didn’t connect, he wouldn’t latch and there was no way to force this. I remembered feeling the pressure to feed him formula by the nurse. I gave it my all although I was exhausted. By day three something just happened and guess what he latched! What a relief, I was afraid it wasn’t going to work out. Moral of the story is that there is a learning curve for both you and your baby, so be gentle with yourself and don’t give up if you want to breastfeed.

Mom’s we put so much pressure on ourselves to make sure to get everything done right. We also have to learn to be forgiving of ourselves. There is no such thing as the perfect mom. Feel free to do what works for you and your baby. What is most important is that you have time to bond with your baby in a happy and carefree way. Putting pressure on yourself is not productive at all, take it from me, a woman who constantly has anxiety about whether or not I am doing my best for my son. Honestly when you just get to have fun and be playful with your child that is what they remember.

Some tips for a successful breastfeeding experience is to stay hydrated, eat healthy, and get rest. If you can do these three things you will produce enough milk for your baby. Be open to whatever works for your family, whether that is exclusive breastfeeding, a mix of breast and formula, or formula feeding. The important thing is that your baby is getting the nutrition that they need. Also remember to call your insurance company to find out if they cover the cost of a breast pump.

I have a Challenge for you!

July 27th, 2020   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

I dare you to live your best life right now and stop waiting for this Pandemic to be over. Embrace this special time with a new energy and allow your spirit to light the path for you. Let me reconfirm that your life is not on hold, actually I believe that this unique time is making us uncomfortable for a grand reason. Go out into nature and connect with Mother Earth. You will get answers when you surrender to the birthing of the new you! How exciting is that!

If you are not happy with the way you have loved yourself this is your time to show up for yourself. Start a love affair with your life. That which makes you uncomfortable is where your wounds that need to be healed are dying for your attention. Stop ignoring all the signs. Tune in, stop tuning out! Don’t dull your pain with addictive behaviors. This is the time to reclaim your greatness.

Who are you? What do you want? How can you parent yourself and allow that wounded child to heal. Stop the toxic cycles and start living your most enchanting life. You have one life to live, how are you going to celebrate it? Who are the people you want to celebrate with? This is your time to rise and shine! You are a diamond now get out there and be brilliant! I am not only talking to you I am also giving myself a pep talk here. You see we are naturally scared of our greatness, but why? Why shouldn’t I be the best version of myself right now? What are we all waiting for, life is so short go live it right now, stop convincing yourself that everything has come to a halt. We are creatures of habit and now that it has gotten shaken up we are all fretting, come on now be extraordinarily amazing! Who will accept my challenge?

Are you Thriving or Surviving?

July 20th, 2020   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

I don’t know about you but I can tell you that this Pandemic has got many people in a funk. For me personally the isolation has been a big part of it. Human beings are social animals and constantly being indoors and having to social distance has taken a toll on many people. I am grateful for the virtual options that we have to connect but we all know it just isn’t the same. I started experiencing body aches and pains, my sleep was affected and I was spiraling in the wrong direction. Luckily for me I caught myself and developed a strategy to shake off the funk. I would not allow the anxiety to take over. I spoke with my family and friends and just by connecting with them I instantly started to feel better. My body needed movement and I headed to the country to breathe some fresh air!

As a physician I believe that people are capable of healing themselves. We possess the ability to elevate our minds which have an amazing affect on us physically. Our own immune systems become more efficient when our minds are positive and healthy. I encourage you to check in with yourself and ask are you thriving or surviving in this pandemic?

What is the difference between thriving and surviving? According to collinsdictionary.com thriving: If someone or something thrives, they do well and are successful, healthy, or strong. To be surviving is: Someone who is still living, even after the death of another or the end of a situation or event, is said to be surviving. So you see one implies that you are flourishing while the other is connected to an unpleasant event. Living constantly in survival mode is the equivalent of constantly being in the fight or flight mode. Health.Harvard.edu recently published an article which stated: Over time, repeated activation of the stress response takes a toll on the body. Research suggests that chronic stress contributes to high blood pressure, promotes the formation of artery-clogging deposits, and causes brain changes that may contribute to anxiety, depression, and addiction.. More preliminary research suggests that chronic stress may also contribute to obesity, both through direct mechanisms (causing people to eat more) or indirectly (decreasing sleep and exercise).

How many of us are feeling this effect from the Pandemic and all the different situations that have been going on lately? I know I have and I am positive that many of you have been too. So what can you do to decrease your stress? How can you find more support? What kind of physical activity feels good to you?

One thing I can do to help you is having real conversations and connecting with you to help us all heal. I decided to start a weekly IG LIVE conversation where I will be inviting guests who will help us in this journey to thrive during this pandemic. The first conversation will be this Wednesday 7/22/20 on my IG @drdivinalopez, at 6 pm and my guest is none other than my brother, Father Mike Lopez who is the founder of The Hungry Monk Rescue Truck. This is an organization that has thrived and flourished during the pandemic, feeding over 6k families per week!

So I invite you to thrive with me, stop surviving, we can heal each other!

Returning Back To School

July 13th, 2020   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

I know that we as parents are all nervous when we think about sending our kids back to school. The questions that most parents are asking are: Is it safe when we haven’t developed a vaccine? Will my child have to wear a face covering? What are the steps that the schools are taking to ensure the safety of my child?

As a Pediatrician and a Mom who works in the Public Health system, as a matter of fact, as a school Doctor, I have asked all these questions myself. Schools provide an environment of academics, socialization, nutrition, exercise and many other services that students need. Many of the services that schools provide cannot be delivered at the same capacity virtually. With that being said we have not even factored in that working parents would like to know that their children are safe at school so that they themselves may return safely to work. I think it is safe to say that many of us are feeling very uncomfortable with the unknown of what is going to happen this upcoming school year.

There are many things to consider when thinking about sending your child back to school this upcoming school year:

• Is your child a generally healthy child? This is a very important question, one that needs to be discussed with your PCP. Many children have fallen behind on their physicals this year due to offices closing and I would encourage you to please call your doctor and schedule your physical ASAP. I would also encourage you to schedule your child’s flu vaccine this year.

• Ask your school district how are they preparing for social distancing and disinfecting the school. For example, which face coverings are appropriate, are they separating desks 6 ft apart, are students having lunch at their desks, are teachers switching classes instead of students. You want to know if temperatures will be taken daily. Will any medical services be provided at school? Will they be playing on the playground? What is the protocol if there is a resurgence of the virus? What mental health services will be provided if your child is feeling challenged with the new normal?

• If your child goes on the bus to school, will there be assigned seating and face coverings?

• I also think it is important that you start talking with your child about wearing a face covering and getting an idea of how comfortable they are with wearing it for an extended period of time. You can try meditation if your child feels anxious about wearing the face mask to help ease them.

Every child is unique some will transition back with no problems and others may need to stay at home and continue distance learning. There are many factors that need to be taken into consideration. You know your child best and as a parent you must be the advocate for your child. Educators, Health Care Professionals, and Superintendents are making sure that the next school year is safe for everyone.

Parenting Styles

July 7th, 2020   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

Have you ever given any thought into your parenting style? I have found that many people have no idea what I am asking when I say this. Usually a parent’s style is developed as a mix of the parenting style they grew up with plus or minus other styles that they witnessed. What I have noticed is that although there may have been things that were done to us as kids that we did not enjoy and perhaps could have been done in a different way parents often end up repeating them. Which makes me question why? Is it because that is all a person knows? Could it be because you are comfortable with it and believe that’s just the way it’s done?

Well have you heard of conscious parenting? It’s a style of parenting where you accept your child for who they are, not placing expectations on who you want your child to be. Looking at your child as a whole person not a mini version of you. Listening to your child not talking at your child.

It’s my favorite form of parenting because you connect with your child and your child feels heard and loved and accepted. You allow your child to develop into their true self. I mean imagine that they will grow up not having to heal their inner child because they will have learned how to unconditionally love themselves! Not feeling inadequate in a world that is constantly judging. Giving your child wings to fly and be the best version of themselves.

Look it is no easy task stopping yourself from reacting and keeping your cool when your child has done something that you do not approve of. Conscious parenting is just as it sounds being aware and present with your child and consciously parenting not reacting and choosing how you will respond.

Think of yourself as a child. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have a parent who listened first without reacting? Maybe you’ll have better insight as to why your child chose to do what they did and then you can explain what may have been a better choice. When any person feels heard they are more likely to be open to other suggestions versus just reacting back. Of course this is teaching maturity and I think you gain your child’s trust too. It’s also about saying no a lot less and considering your child’s ideas.

Some people tell me this sounds as if you are treating your child like an adult and I say absolutely! (Well a child is growing into an adult aren’t they?). It doesn’t mean that they do whatever they want it means the family will be open to hearing what everyone has to say.

The role Father’s have in a Child’s Health and Development

June 22nd, 2020   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

Studies show that a Father has a great deal of influence in a Child’s life. Let’s start out with defining “what is a father?” A father can be a Biological father, a Step Father, or someone who steps up as a Father figure. We know that nuclear families may look like a mom and dad but we are also well aware in this day and age that nuclear families comes in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t matter what your family looks like, all that matters is that a child has a Father figure.

Studies show that positive father involvement is associated with positive social, emotional and cognitive outcomes in children. This can be seen in any stage of a Child’s life from infancy to their adult years. Especially during the first three years of a Child’s life because there are so many neural connections developing. So fathers should not take a back seat especially during the first three years of life, although it has been perceived in society that a mom predominantly takes on a role in nurturing a baby during that period of a child’s life.

Fathers can positively impact a child’s development by participating in the daily care of the child and in play. Dad’s I am encouraging you to take on the daily care by getting involved with feeding your children, bathing them, reading to them, getting them ready for bed, etc… Also it is so important that you get involved with playtime, playtime is a time to teach and nourish your child. Get on the floor and have fun with them, this is when you have a chance to bond with your little one. Have fun and laugh and create great memories with them. You will be aiding in boosting your child’s confidence and self esteem. It is also important for a child to have different views on parenting, this teaches kids how to think for themselves and understand that there are many ways to perceive something.

Studies show that fathers who are engaged in the first years of life help to improve emotional intelligence and problem solving capabilities. This increases a child’s curiosity and exploration. They score higher or verbal and math tests. They are less likely to drop out of school and are more successful in life.

Having a father figure helps build confidence and self esteem, by have an extra person who is loving them and supporting them through life. Helping kids understand how much they are worth and loved helps them to be confident and happy in their own lives.

Studies also show that children growing up with a Father figure have an increased ability to resist peer pressure and stand up for themselves. It gives a child someone to look up to, a role model. Someone to model good behavior and manners. Children also have higher levels of sociability and increased awareness of the needs of others. They can be more compassionate and generous. This also helps because it provides children with a different perspective, because dads have a different way of explaining things.

Be a steady source of love and encouragement in your child’s life! Connect with your child as often as possible!

Hello, I wanted to Introduce myself now that I have your attention!

June 15th, 2020   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

I am Dr. Divina Lopez, a Board Certified Pediatrician serving the NYC and NJ area for 10 years as a General Pediatrician.  I am at your service for anything concerning Parenting or your children.  My passion right now is helping New Parents during this uncertain time.  

I know that many pregnant Mamas and Dads are super anxious with the situation we are currently living in.  Seems like the support that one would usually have may not be accessible right now.  That is why I chose to use technology to reach parents.  On my website (www.drdivinalopez.com) you can download some freebies that I created for you and listen to my podcast “Dancing Into Parenthood”.  I use social media platforms like Instagram (@drdivinalopez) and TikTok (@drdivinalopez) to share relevant information for New and Expecting Parents.  I have a Youtube channel where I will be posting more videos soon.  I think educating parents is the most important thing I can do, to contribute to the world.  I believe in the trickle effect, if I help educate parents to feel confident with their parenting techniques then they will raise amazing human beings!

I know that parents need more support than ever right now.  It’s been pretty challenging not only for the parents but for the kids as well.  Thank goodness for telemedicine!  Many visits can be done on a virtual platform these days.  You can find me on the Medici app if you would like a telemedicine visit for your little one.  I do think that one of the most important things is having established is a Medical Home for your child.  Having a Pediatrician that you trust and respect is of utmost importance.  Personally having a great relationship with the families that I serve is the most important thing!  When you have good rapport with your patients that is a total game changer because the level of comfort goes from 0 -100 and the visits are just so much more pleasant.  

I have amazing news that I want to share with you too!  I am so excited to tell you about my newest creation, it’s the “Dancing Into Parenthood” coaching program for Expecting and New Parents.  In this program I will be meeting with you virtually every week and we will be discussing all the trials and tribulations that you have been facing that week.  There is a baby manual that I put together for you which is super cute and easy to follow!  I love the manual so much because it’s literally the step by step of what to do, making your life easy, believe me you will thank me for it!  There is a baby journal with all the important events that need to be recorded as well such as daily sheets to record what you want to achieve, how to incorporate self care and of course all essential info for baby.  

I think this is a fabulous program if you imagined your Parenting Journey to be:
    •    Easy and fun
    •    Present with your baby and Partner
    •    Feel confident in the care you are providing your baby
    •    No longer feel overwhelmed or confused
    •    Get the opportunity to enjoy every moment
    •    Establish family goals and reach them
    •    Have clarity on how to care for your infant
    •    Build a stronger relationship with your partner and working as a team
    •    Feel comfortable in your decisions
    •    Feel supported by someone you trust

Check out the Coaching Program on my website www.drdivinalopez.com for more information!  

I would love to hear from you as well, let me know how I can be of better service to you, leave me a message on my website.  See you soon!

Have you discussed the topic of racism with your children? If not then what is holding you back? Take advantage of this time in America to have that sort of difficult conversation.

June 8th, 2020   admin  Uncategorized   No Comments »

Of course when speaking to your child make sure it’s age appropriate. Talk about how there is only one race, the human race. Tell your little ones that it’s important to treat everyone with respect, and kindness. Ask your children to treat others the way they would want others to treat them. Expose your children to diverse books starting at an early age.

Older children and teens may be exposed to protests and violence through social media or on TV. How is that affecting them? Ask if they have ever witnessed someone being racist or do they have experience with someone being racist towards them. They may start to show some changes in their behavior, for example is your child showing signs of aggression or anxiety? Reach out to your Pediatrician for help and guidance if you notice these sort of changes. Have honest conversations with your child and answer their questions as best to your ability.

Check in with yourself, how is this affecting you? What are your own thoughts on racism? How has racism affected you and your loved ones?

New York Times has released a great article: These Books Can Help You Explain Racism and Protest to Your Kids: which categorizes books according to age groups. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/parenting/kids-books-racism-protest.html

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