Teaching Kids Safety with Medicationsby Carissa - May 12th, 2014
A recent study conducted by Pediatrics concluded a scary fact that we parents already fear: kids get into their parents' medicines. Did you know approximately 60,000 children under the age of 5 in America are treated in the emergency room because they got into medicines (or vitamins) when their caregiver wasn't looking?
With new prescriptions being written out to adults at a rapid pace, it's more important than ever to teach our kids safety with medicines. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Small children are curious, as they should be. However, one thing we don't want them experimenting with is our medications.
When dealing with young kids, instilling medicine safety when they are young is just as important as teaching them to brush their teeth. We need to start talking to them when they're young so they grow up with good habits.
1. Never tell a child their medicine is candy. It's important that they know what medicines are, what they are used for, and how to take them.
2. Explain in young children's terms that while medicines will make the people feel better; taking someone else's medicines will make them very sick.
3. Teach them proper storage making sure you put away any medicines or vitamins used in the household. Make sure they are out of sight and out of reach of young children.
Older Kids & Teenagers
When your kids are old enough to read responsible enough to take their medication themselves, it's important to still be there to supervise. We all want our kids to be responsible, but this is one area where supervision can mean life or death.
When you feel your children are old enough to take their own medications, here are a few things to teach them about medication safety:
1. Start by teaching them how to read medicine labels.
a. Be sure to point out the specific instructions like how much to take and when to take it. Certain medicines can be very specific. For example, does it need to be taken with food? At bedtime?
b. Go over the correct dosages; whether in pill form or a liquid. Make sure they understand all of the abbreviations used, like tsp. or mL.
c. For over the counter medicines, have them read the ingredients listed. Help them identify ones that are commonly used in other medicines, like acetaminophen.
d. Make a point of having them read the side effects and answer any questions they may have.
2. Talk to them about overdosing and how dangerous it can be to take more than one medicine at a time. Understanding what ingredients are in the medication help eliminate a potential overdose if two medicines happen to have the same active ingredients.
3. Talk to your children about why they never take medicines that were not prescribed specifically for them. This is especially pertinent for older kids because it is not uncommon for medicines like Ritalin to be sold or handed out in school hallways. Make sure your children understand the risks and say no to this kind of peer pressure.
The best way to ensure children understand the precautions needed when taking medicines and vitamins is to always have an open dialogue with them. Knowledge is power, so empower them to be good stewards of their health at a young age and it will last a lifetime. That being said, don't leave things to chance. Be sure to employ common sense methods like putting medicines up and out of reach of young children each and every time they are used. Don't forget to dispose of medicines properly so there is never any question of safety.
Carissa Andrews is an passionate author and freelancer from Minnesotan with a focus in creative writing.
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