Medicine is Not Candy

Many times parents, desperately trying to get a child to take a prescribed medication, will try just about anything to accomplish the goal. As the child stubbornly refuses to take the medication, parents often say, “Please take this yummy candy.” This common mistake is an easy one to make, but could be deadly for your child.

Telling your children medicine is candy teaches them that the pills in the little bottle or the liquids in the cabinet are candy. And what child would not like to sneak some extra “candy” when parents are not watching?

The best way to give children their medication is to present it to them, explain what it is and place the medication in the childs mouth quickly and in a calm, matter-of-fact manner. If the procedure becomes a long drawn-out argument or power struggle, parents and children become frustrated, angry, and it is then that accidents can occur. After the child swallows the medication, comfort and praise the child to make the experience a positive one. Once medication has been dispensed, it should be immediately put away. Many accidental poisonings have occurred when a parent is distracted and the medication is left out on the counter.

Parents must educate their children about the proper use of medication. It needs to be explained in simple terms that are at the child’s developmental level. For example, medication can be described as a pill or liquid that should only be taken by someone who is sick, so he or she can feel better. If it is Daddy’s medication, it should only be taken by Daddy. 

If the medication is for the child, parents need to explain that the child needs to take it to get better. Medication may not smell good and may not taste very good. After the medication has been taken, the parents can provide the child with a drink or food that the child does like to remove the bad taste in the mouth.  

Sometimes children decide to take extra medication, thinking they will get better faster and then accidentally take an overdose. Parents must teach children that the medication has to be taken just the way the doctor wants it to be taken, just a little bit at a time.

Today, most medications can be requested to be placed in child-proof containers. When prescriptions are filled, let the pharmacist know you would like child-proof containers.

However, even in child-proof containers, medications must be stored in cabinets with locks or safety latches. Children can develop excellent climbing skills, so putting medications up high does not ensure they are safely stored.

In the case of an ingestion or even suspected ingestion, call 911. Another important number for poison information is the poison control center -- 1-800-222-1222. This number should be posted by every phone and/or on the refrigerator.

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