American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Meducation: Teaching Kids About Medication

Child taking cough medicineMany parents may pride themselves on the creative methods they have employed while safely navigating a flying spoon of grape-tasting medicine into their child’s mouths. However, few of these strategies included properly educating their child about medication.

“Parents sometimes feel as if children are either too young or entirely uninterested in medicine,” explains Stanley Grogg, DO, an osteopathic pediatrician in Tulsa, Okla. “So, when they give children medication they try to make it a fun experience in hopes that the child will overlook the act.”

Dr. Grogg explains that entertaining rather than educating children about medication results in a missed opportunity to help teach them how to avoid misusing medication.

“Children will inevitably ask about taste and function,” he says. “If parents choose to ignore or avoid these questions, they will never get to a point where they can explain the important behaviors needed when it comes to responsible use of medicine.”

Creating a Teachable Moment

Dr. Grogg advises parents to start by reading the medication’s label with their child. This will explain the importance of taking the right medication, at the right time, in the right amount.

In addition, educating children about the medication will allow them to identify unexpected side effects or reactions that they can report to an adult. Dr. Grogg stressed the importance of children recognizing that the medicine is not working how it should.

“As always, the best way to educate children, is to act as an example,” he advises. Dr. Grogg says to follow these three simple instructions:

  • Treat medicine seriously.

  • Take medications only when necessary and only as instructed.

  • Store medicine out of the reach and sight of young children. 


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