By Dr. Anthony Policastro

Parents are often creatures of habit. Sometimes those habits are good. Sometimes they are not.

One way to improve parenting is to look at our default for dealing with our children. We can then decide if the habit needs to be changed.

There are a variety of intervention strategies. Some are better than others. However, there sometimes needs to be a balance between conflicting strategies. That keeps the parent from falling into the wrong habit.

For example, there are times to criticize children. There are times to praise them. Spending too much time on criticism can impair self-esteem.

We used to have a saying in the Air Force. It went: One “Aw Shucks” is often worse than ten “Attaboys.” The point is that criticism tends to leave a deeper impression than praise. So the balance needs to tip toward praise.

Parents will sometimes tease their children. Sometimes that is in fun. However, roasting a child for their behavior is never as good as boasting about their good behavior.

One of the things I learned over the years worked like that. When someone introduced me to their parents, I would tell the parents what a good job they did raising this fine adult.

It was praise to the parent but it was also boasting about the individual. I got a bigger bang for the buck.

Children often have things go wrong. Our reflex reaction is to reassure them that things will go better the next time. It is a lot better to work with them to address the problem. That way we can help them make sure that things do indeed go better.

When you watch a movie, you often see family members expressing their feelings about things. That is really an important way to get to know each other.

However, in some families feelings are not often communicated. There is certainly an opportunity there. Asking a child how they feel about something may give insight that you did not expect.

Most of my patients had school-related issues. Parents would sometimes come in and lay a lot of the blame on the children.

One of the things I used to point out was that there is no better advocate for the child than the parent. If there is a school-related issue, it might be the child’s fault.

However, often they are just reacting to an unpleasant situation. Bullying is a good example of a child acting out. If they get suspended from school, they don’t have to face the bully. Parents need to work at finding the source of the issues.

Accusing the child before that happens is not the right approach.

When my daughters were growing up, they learned that my wife was usually the one who would give them money when they asked for it.

I was the one that was willing to negotiate privileges like curfew. I knew that if they came to me with a money question, they had struck out with mom.

My wife knew that if it was a privilege question, they had struck out with me. Our response was to ask them what the other parent said.

Parents need to be on the same page. Otherwise the children will figure out which buttons to press to set them up against each other.

Those several habits are good things for parents to examine. There is often an opportunity to move the pendulum from one type of action to another type. It is best to try and have a balanced approach. It is much healthier for the children.

COVID-19 Update

The number of new cases nationally remained fairly steady. They were 500,000 last week and 485,000 this week. Sussex County continued to remain between 200 and 400 new cases.

Fully immunized individuals nationally have gone from 22 percent to 25 percent of the population in the last week. Delaware has gone from 21 percent to 26 percent. The number of first doses nationally has moved from 36 percent of the population to 40 percent. Delaware has moved from 38 percent to 42 percent.

We are getting close to 50 percent of the total population vaccinated. Of course the total population figures include children. Therefore, we are likely above 50 percent for the target adult population.

The models predict that at the current rate we would hit 100 percent of all individuals over age 16 by July 2nd. That would represent 78 percent of the total population.

Last week someone asked me what my approach would be to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. I told him that the answer is not that hard. Only 6 individuals of 6.8 million doses has suffered the clotting problem. All had been women. All of them were between the ages of 18 (lowest age you could get the vaccine) and 48 years of age.

That means that there should be no issue giving men the vaccine. That means there should be no issue giving post-menopausal women the vaccine. For women of childbearing age, they should have an option. They can take a different vaccine. Alternatively, they can choose to take a vaccine with less than a one in a million chance of having a severe complication.

By comparison there have been 1,746 deaths per million people in the U.S. from COVID since the pandemic began. We also have a little more than 100 deaths per million people in the U.S. annually from motor vehicle accidents. So the less than 1 per million complication rate is relatively low comparatively speaking.

The country of Bhutan has a population of 778,313. They have had 1 COVID death to this point. They began COVID immunization on March 27th. By April 8th, 93 percent of eligible adults had received the vaccine. I guess their death rate will continue to be low. It does appear possible to be successful at approaching COVID-19 infections.