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Teaching Kids about Using Medicine Safely

Medications can make children sick or even cause death when not used safely. Teaching medication safety and respect for the varying forms of medicine is vital to a child’s protection. It is important that children understand the benefits of medications in treating illnesses and injuries, as well as the potential dangers.

Before Administering Medication

Having printed instructions for each medication can be a great resource for discussing the recommended dosages, side effects, storage requirements, and any other significant details. Before administering the medication, discuss with your child why it is needed. This will help them understand that the purpose of the medication is to help them.

[box type=”note”]Encourage your child to ask any questions they have about a medicine. If the answer is unknown, contact a pharmacist or doctor to emphasize the importance of learning about a medication before taking it.[/box]

While Administering Medication

Discussing the instructions for using a medication while administering it can be an effective way to teach medication safety. This allows you to explain each step, as well as emphasize the importance of never taking more than the recommended dose. It is important to clarify the difference between medicine and candy as many medications are brightly colored and can be confusing to children. It is imperative that parents do not present medications as treats or rewards, doing so could lead the child in attempting to obtain the medication on their own.

After Administering Medication

After the child has taken the medication, show them the proper way to store it. Make sure to emphasize the importance of medication being stored away from food. It is also helpful to discuss the reason for child-proof safety caps as well as discouraging children from playing with the caps. Another important topic to address is the different hazard warnings and pictures that appear on certain medication bottles. Children should be taught to use extreme caution around bottles with hazardous pictures and warnings.

Additional Tips for Children Ages 3-6

Children ages 3-6 are not ready to take medications alone and should only take them when a parent or caregiver says to.  This age group can garner awareness of medication safety by learning to take anything resembling candy or pills they may find to an adult immediately. Six year olds may be ready to read the label on their medication and discuss dosage requirements before taking it. The 3-6 age groups may also benefit from helping set a schedule each day and citing specific times the medication should be taken.

Additional Tips for Children Ages 7-9

Children who are 7-9 years old are ready to learn the rules for taking medications at school and the importance of consistently obeying these rules. Children who have the responsibility of transporting their own medications to and from school should be taught to keep them away from younger children. Parents should also emphasize to children of this age that medications should not be taken in front of younger siblings as they may attempt to imitate the behavior. An additional tip for this age group is to use drug commercials on television as a platform for discussing the different side effects that can occur with medications.

Additional Tips for Children Ages 10-12

A significant lesson for children ages 10-12 is the importance of not stopping antibiotics until the entire prescribed amount has been taken. This group can also understand the difference between serious side effects caused by medications and less serious ones that usually diminish quickly. Proper disposal techniques of expired medications should be taught to this age group as well as the importance of keeping medications in the original packaging.

Children should be taught medication safety in order to prevent sickness or death from occurring; different ages may benefit from different resources and tools to enhance learning. It should be clarified that though medications can be dangerous they also serve a useful function.

Kevin Clarke is a Pharmacist and currently runs Drugsdb.com - a consumer health website that provides information on many Drug Side Effects and Interactions .

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