Teaching health: Discussing medicine with your child

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), “Between 2004 and 2005, an estimated 71,000 children (18 or younger) were seen in EDs each year because of medication overdose.”   Some vitamins and medications seem like fun – pink bubblegum flavored, gummies, fun “blister pack” packaging.  So it is very important to teach your children about medications.

Not only can your instructions protect them from accidental overdose, but it can help them learn about biology and early chemistry.

How you speak to your child about medicines will depend on their age and maturity. Below are just a few ideas for each age group. Please share in the comments how you educate your child about OTC drugs.

1-3 years old

Keep it super simple and serious with young minds. “Only mommy and daddy give you medicine. If you do it, it can hurt your tummy.” At this age they are learning basic cause and effect, to reinforce that with a serious tone.

4-6 years old

At this age they are starting to ask “why” and learn basic critical thinking skills.

A great activity for young children is to pull out a few different medicine bottles from your cabinet and discuss what they are, what they treat, and the side effects.

Knowledge will help your child understand and prevent them from trying to figure it out on their own. Answer all their questions about each medicine. And of course always restate how we rely on pharmacists and doctors to prescribe the amount for our bodies and we cannot take more or we will get sick.

6-10 years old

Depending on your child’s interest level, begin researching what is in your medications and how it reacts to our bodies. Teach them to read the labels.

This is also an excellent age to discuss the importance of following a doctor’s prescription exactly. Ask, “do you know what tolerance is?” and discuss how our body can start making antibiotics ineffective if we don’t take them as prescribed.

The key is communication and knowledge

The less fear and taboo you put on medications and the more knowledge you provide about the effects (good and bad) the more you arm your children with responsibility.

How do you help your children learn about medications? 

This entry was posted in Annie Shultz, Child Development by Annie Shultz.

About Annie Shultz

Annie Shultz lives in Kansas with her three kids: Lizzie (four years), David (two years) and Lucy (11 months). She created her blog Mama Dweeb in 2009 to share her writing and life with other moms. She is also the managing editor of 5 Minutes for Parenting and a contributing writer on the Perspectives blog with pediatrician Dr. Greene. She loves discovering and sharing parenting ideas that help caregivers find success in their role. She has learned that a mother is always learning, always adapting, and forever involved in the most rewarding adventures!

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