Thursday, May 08, 2014
Make the punishment realistic to administer

By Dr. Anthony Policastro

The old version of adolescent punishment was being grounded. That meant that the adolescent was unable to leave the house for whatever period of time that the punishment lasted. The problem with punishments like that is their all inclusive nature.

One of the things that I try to teach parents is that it makes sense to give punishments in small quantities. That accomplishes several things. The first thing that it does is allow you to be able to add on to the punishment later. If a child gets punished for a week, then any subsequent punishment will have to occur after that week is up.

If the punishment is for a few hours, then additional hours are easy to add. The second thing it does is give the child part of what they want but not all of it. For example, missing an entire TV program may not be as bad as getting to watch only the first half of it.

When my children were growing up, a very good punishment was limiting the use of the car. Unfortunately, they had to be old enough to drive for that to work. We now have other opportunities to provide punishments in small quantities. We can also do it at a younger age.

Contrary to popular adolescent belief, a cell phone for texting friends is not a constitutional right. Cell phone use and other electronic device use needs to be regulated by parents. They should not be something that is available to the child or young adult for unlimited periods of time.

One of the things that should be made clear is that use of a device means that it costs money. That means that chores around the house help earn that money. If chores are not done on a particular day, the cell phone will be given back after they are completed.

Another thing that can be done is that extra time on the phone can be earned by doing extra chores. Time can be lost as punishment for inappropriate activities.

The ideal situation is to set up rules when a cell phone is first purchased. The first rule should be how many hours a day that the phone should be available. Twenty four hours a day is not appropriate. When my children were growing up, they were not to make or receive phone calls after 9 p.m. Any of their friends who violated that rule, heard it loud and clear from me when I answered the phone. It usually only happened once per friend. There is no reason for a cell phone to be available during the hours that a child should be sleeping.

A second rule should be how many hours during the day, the cell phone is available. It would make sense to create a chart. On that chart would be the hours that the phone is needed (like when the child is away from home). Then there could be additional hours per day added for things like chores. Time might be lost the following day for punishment for inappropriate behavior today.

As a child gets older, there are additional things that can be tied to cell phone use. For example, poor grades should mean less time. An adolescent who wants to drop out of school should have no cell phone privileges.

Parents often view cell phone use as a necessity in todays world. That may not always be the case. It is a privilege. Like all other privileges, there need to be strings attached to it. Just like grounding was a frequent form of punishment in the past, cell phone usage provides an opportunity for parents to create both rewards and punishments for their children and adolescents.

If you have comments about this column or suggestions for other topics, send an email to Dr. Anthony Policastro at

Take care of your mental health

Mind Your Health - this years theme for May is Mental Health Month  calls attention to the importance of mental health to overall health and wellness.

We know that mental health is integral to overall health, said Jim Lafferty, executive director of the Mental Health Association in Delaware (MHA). People need to care for their mental health so they can respond to the stress of daily life and the challenges it presents.

This Mental Health Month, we are encouraging everyone to learn about steps they can take to protect their mental health and balance both mind and body.

Mental Health America has developed a series of fact sheets available on its website ( on steps anyone can take to improve their overall mental health and well-being and on how to get help when needed.

By contrast, poor mental health  such as feeling overwhelmed by stress  can make even day-to-day life difficult. Research shows that stress is closely linked to high blood pressure, heart disease and obesity. It also shows that people who feel depressed or chronically stressed may have a greater risk of physical illnesses, Lafferty said.

Mind Your Eating presentation

Join Lisa Harkins, RD, LDN, at the Cancer Support Community (CSC) in Rehoboth at 6 p.m. on Monday, May 19, to learn how eating mindfully can improve your health. Do you eat when you are bored, stressed, angry, or sad? Do you rush through meals? Lisa, of Ideal Nutrition and Fitness, will guide you to a plan that will help you feel better and also manage your weight.

Call 645-9150 in advance to reserve your spot. All programs offered at CSC are free of charge to people affected by cancer and their loved ones.

Nurses licenses are suspended

Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock has ordered the temporary suspension of the Delaware nursing license of Kenneth E. Weichert and Michelle A. Vickers following complaints of engaging in activities that present a clear and immediate danger to the public health.

The temporary suspension of Weicherts license follows his arrest and charge on April 10, with one misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance, one misdemeanor count of possession of marijuana, and one misdemeanor count of possession of drug paraphernalia.

The complaint against Vickers alleges her habitual nature of offenses including engagement in repeated diversion of narcotics from the employer for her own personal use; admitting to a dependence on narcotics; continuing to practice nursing unmonitored while addicted to such medications; being discharged from a treatment program for noncompliance and poor prognosis; and being suspended from her multi-state practice privilege in Maryland.

Easter Seals offers Saturday Social

Easter Seals and the Delaware Division of Developmental Disabilities Services are teaming up to bring Saturday Social to adults ages 18 and older with intellectual disabilities one Saturday a month. Sessions will be held at the Easter Seals Georgetown location at 22317 DuPont Highway, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The first social will be held on Saturday, May 10.

For more information and a calendar of upcoming sessions, visit and look for Caregiver and Respite Services. Those interested can apply online or call Natasha Shrieves at 253-1100.

Walk the Boards for Parkinsons

Join us for the Sussex County Parkinsons Education and Support Groups Walk the Boards for Parkinsons, from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 17, in Rehoboth Beach.

The Walk begins at the Rehoboth Beach Band Stand. Registration fee is $25. Pre-register/donate online at Register the day of the walk at the Bandstand or CHSC (Cape Henlopen Senior Center, 11 Christian St.) beginning at 9 a.m. with shuttle service to the Boardwalk.

There will be entertainment at the Bandstand from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and merchant sidewalk sales all day. Health and Aging in Place exhibits will be behind the Bandstand from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The event will be held rain or shine.

For more information, call Elaine Russo at 858-1403.

Hannas Hope for a Cure

The 1st Annual Hannas Hope for a Cure softball tournament to help FSMA (Families of Spinal Muscular Atrophy) will be held at Crossroads Community Church in Georgetown on Saturday, May 10. Help us reach our fundraising goal of $20,000 by donating gift certificates, merchandise or funding.

Hanna, daughter of Gary and Ashley Warfield of Georgetown, was diagnosed in February with SMA, a rare genetic disease that is often fatal, destroying the muscles controlling voluntary movement.

For more information, contact Gary or Ashley at 858-6843 or 519-1699 or email Cash donations may be made online at

Stroke & osteoporosis screenings

Residents living in and around the Laurel community can be screened on Monday, May 12, at Centenary United Methodist Church, Laurel, to reduce their risk of having a stroke or bone fracture. This event is sponsored by Bayhealth Medical Center.

Screenings identify potential cardiovascular conditions such as blocked arteries and irregular heart rhythm, abdominal aortic aneurysms and hardening of the arteries in the legs, which is a strong predictor of heart disease.

A bone density screening to assess osteoporosis risk is also offered and is appropriate for both men and women.

Packages start at $149. All five screenings take 60-90 minutes to complete. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 1-877-237-1287 or visit

Pre-registration is required.

Form a Relay for Life team

This years Relay for Life will be held on May 30-31.

As in recent past years, the event will be held at Seafords Soroptomist Park, with a rain location in the parking garage at the Nanticoke Cancer Center.

The theme this year is The Many Colors of Cancer: Building a Rainbow of Hope. Team formation is in progress, so it is not too late to form a team and get involved.

For more information about the Relay For Life, or if you are interested in getting involved, or purchasing a luminary, contact Shelley Lambden, this years event chairperson, at rflwestsussexde@gmail or by calling 841-3626.

Hospice hosts special workshop 

Delaware Hospice presents, Remembering Mothers and Grandmothers, from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 10, at the Delaware Hospice Family Support Center, Milford.

Especially for adults who have lost a mother or grandmother, this workshop will include activities to facilitate remembering and honoring these individuals.

Register by Thursday, May 8, by contacting Michelle August at 800-838-9800 or

Annual Summer Blood Challenge

Blood Bank of Delmarva will hold the 12th Annual Summer Blood Challenge from May 19 to Sept. 13.

Organizations earn points based on blood donations, first time donors and more. Last year, a record 241 companies participated in the challenge, resulting in 14,308 blood donations.

For more information and to register for the Summer Blood Challenge, visit