In life parents impart many important lessons to their children. We teach them the Golden Rule and instruct them to live by it. We teach our kids stop, drop and roll. We instruct them to look both ways before crossing the street. And we tell our kids that no one else is to touch them but their parents and doctors. There are many life lessons that parents are responsible for teaching. But there is one that slips through the cracks. One that is so normal to our everyday life that we don’t even think warn our children about it, the abuse of medication. The most important lesson we can pass on to our children is to teach them the responsibility of what to put into their bodies.
The most important lesson we can pass on to our children is to teach them the responsibility of what to put into their bodies.
Medication plays a major role in our lives and the lives of our children. Mostly this is a good thing. Medication can ease an earache, reduce a fever and immunize a developing body against disease. As parents we have a responsibility to keep our children healthy. But the fact remains that medicine, as good as it is can have side effects, cause an allergic reaction and cause addiction. Part of that healthy life we try to maintain for our children needs to include what medication really is and making our children aware of the good and the bad that accompanies it.
“You can slowly and repeatedly give a consistent message about the responsibility of medication.” says Carol Reeves the Executive Director of Greenville Family Partnership. Reeves has more than 30 years experience educating kids, parents and American Presidents about the dangers of substance abuse. She recently educated me on the parental responsibility of medication.
“The best thing we can do can do for children, long term, is to teach them the responsibility of what they put in their body.” Reeves says. “The brain has everything that it needs when you are born, with rare exception, to take care of you - if you take care of it!” If our children are not taught to keep their minds and bodies healthy, then it will affect their performance in every other aspect of their lives from relationships to their careers.
If our children are not taught to keep their minds and bodies healthy, then it will affect their performance in every other aspect of their lives from relationships to their careers.
The first step in educating your children about a healthy body is to explain the medication that you give them. Speak to them at their level. This can be a simple as telling your daughter that this medicine is going to take away all of the germs in her body so she can feel better again. Then explain to her that once the germs are gone, there is no more need for the medicine. Children should understand that medicine is only good for what it is intended to do. It has done its job and then it goes back into the cabinet. This should be the conversation every time you medicate your child.
If your child has a reaction to the drug then it is important to explain that not all medicines are for all people. What is good for a sister may not be good for a brother. Also let them know that they are to never get medicine on their own. That is the role of the parent. Medication should only be given by parents (or family), doctors and nurses. Children do not have the ability to diagnose their own problems and medicate themselves for it. No child under the age of 12 should be allowed to get medication on their own. Not even their prescriptions. This is a reason why all medications should be kept out of the reach of children.
The most dangerous thing in your home is medication and parents are not having adequate conversations about it.
But the message of medication comes from other sources in our children’s lives. Commercials are influencing them. They may not fully understand what is going on but the message is sinking in. Here is an Advil PM ad from a few years ago. It depicts a woman who is restless going to an Advil PM bottle and instead of pills coming out, it’s a soft blanket. The woman snuggles down in her Advil PM blanket and goes to sleep happily. How many of our children have to have a certain blanket to sleep with? The connection children can make with Advil PM is that what’s in that box can make them sleep, just like their favorite blanket.
Clearly this commercial was not aimed at children. It was not the intent of Advil PM to lure kids into taking their product. But the message may be misinterpreted by a kids watching that this medication is like a warm blanket and will help me sleep. This is why parents need to clearly define when it is okay to take medicine and the reasoning for the treatment. (Advil PM is not recommended for children under 12 years of age.)
The most dangerous thing in your home is medication and parents are not having adequate conversations about it. Children need to be taught to take responsibility for what they are putting into their body from medication to tobacco from huffing to smoking. The biggest way to keep kids safe is to educate them about their health and well being. A healthy mind and body will make better decisions and live a happier life. As a parent, don’t take the responsibility of medicating lightly. Talk to you children and make sure they understand the need for a healthy lifestyle.
For more information, please visit the Greenville Family Partnership.