6 Things to Teach Your Tween About OTC Medicine Safety

By Shannon Gurnee
In Health
November 26, 2014


#OTCLiteracy #Medicine #Safety #Scholastic #ad

How much do our tweens really know about OTC (Over-the-Counter) Medicine Safety?  According to a few recent surveys, tweens got a failing grade.  In fact, not only did the tweens get a failing grade, but the vast majority of parents weren’t even sure whether OTC-related issues were being taught in their tweensschool.  Plus, 58 percent of parents surveyed believed their tweens understood the difference between prescription and OTC medicines, while 67 percent of tweens thought it was ok to use someone else’s prescription medicines. This functional medicine clinic in London is providing a safe space for you to heal. Why not check it out for more info!

“I see it every day in my practice – tweens often begin to self-medicate around middle school,” says Tanya Altmann, M.D., F.A.A.P, a pediatrician and child health expert trained at the University of California, Los Angeles.  “It’s very important for parents to teach their tweens to always read and follow the instructions on the label, use the dosing device that comes with the medication and always store medications up and away from younger siblings.”  She adds, “These survey results are another reminder that medication safety and education are such important topics, especially for tweens who are starting to become more independent.”

In 2012, America’s poison centers managed over 296,000 exposure cases involving children ages 6 to 19.  As a matter of fact, over half of these cases involved medication errors and misuse.  As a parent to tweens, these statistics really scared me.  I wanted to know what I could do to teach our tweens about OTC medicine safety.

6 Things to Teach Your Tween About OTC (Over-the-Counter) Medicine Safety

  1. Always read and follow the Drug Facts label, and never take more than what’s directed on the label.
  2. Know what is in your medicine and never use more than one medicine with the same active ingredient.
  3. Return medicines up and away and out of sight after every use.
  4. Always use the dosing device that comes with medicine.  Never use household measurement tools like teaspoons, tablespoons or kitchen spoons.
  5. Tweens should only use OTC medicines with permission and supervision from their parent or guardian.
  6. Parents play a critical role in helping their tweens learn how to responsibly take OTC medicines.  It is imperative that parents are equipped with the necessary materials to best support the in-classroom lessons to which their teens have been exposed.


Scholastic is pleased to be partnering with AAPCC on this important program,” shares Ann Amstutz Hayes, senior vice president, Scholastic National Partnerships.  “Together we are supporting educators, school health professionals and families with interactive multimedia tools and resources that have been proven to help teachers and their students.  OTC Literacy is specifically tailored to meet the needs of these teachers and students to increase knowledge on the important topic of OTC medicine safety and to drive positive behavior change.”

The OTC Literacy program was successfully launched in schools in 2013 and includes resources and engaging educational activities specifically designed for parents and teachers of tweens to increase knowledge of OTC safety and responsible use.  The program places special emphasis on the message that tweens should only take OTC medications with the permission and supervision of parents or guardians.  Materials can be downloaded HERE.

Have you talked with your tween about OTC medicine safety?  Do you have any additional things that you would teach a tween about OTC medicine safety?



About Has 2214 Posts

Shannon Gurnee is the author of Redhead Mom formerly "The Mommy-Files", a national blog with a loyal following. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development with a Minor in Business Management. Shannon and her husband, Frank, have a large family with 6 awesome kids and love living on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, California, as well as traveling around the world. A full-time Social Media and Professional Blogger, Shannon also serves as a National Brand Ambassador for many well-known companies. Her blog focuses on motherhood, family fun activities, traveling, fashion, beauty, technology, wedding ideas and recipes while providing professional opinions on products, performances, restaurants, and a variety of businesses.

21 Responses to “6 Things to Teach Your Tween About OTC Medicine Safety”

  1. Jaime says:

    My son is young (age 3.) My husband saw OTC medicine abuse when he worked in middle schools. It’s scary and definitely something we plan on discussing with our son when he’s older.

  2. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    My tween wouldn’t even think to take medication unless I handed it to him.

  3. Alice Chase says:

    So glad you brought this up. We have ALWAYS been the ones to hand out medicine. It’s important to teach them the correct uses. Thanks for bringing up this topic.

  4. Liz Mays says:

    Everyone should definitely read the drug facts. It helps to know what you’re putting in your body.

  5. Sarah Bailey says:

    Some really good tips – I learnt the hard way while reading the leaflet is a good idea, sometimes its best to skip the ‘side affects’ bit at least for me lol

  6. coolchillmom says:

    You bring a very important topic to the forefront. i have to agree with you. parents play a critical role in this

  7. JEANINE says:

    This is so important! I keep all medicines locked up in the cupboard but you can’t ever be too careful or safe! Teaching kids and tweens is important!

  8. Pam says:

    It’s scary what can happen when kids don’t know about taking medication safely. When I was a kid, I ate a whole bottle of vitamins and had to go to the doctor. Because of that, I always taught my kids about the dangers of OTC medications.

  9. Heather says:

    I was lucky to have a pharmacist as a dad. I will make sure my kids know to ask a professional about drug interactions.

  10. Pam says:

    These are great tips and unfortunately it is not just tweens that need reinforcement of info regarding over the counter meds. I find a lot of the elderly do also and just your average person sometimes needs a refresher.

  11. I worry about this stuff! I have a toddler and freak out about our medicines.

  12. My teen daughter despises taking any types of meds, even swallowing an Advil, she would never go near any medication! But great post!

  13. maria says:

    My teen hates taking medication but because of taste, but because she thinks about addiction and overdosing from news reports. I work in healthcare so this information is so important to parents!

  14. These are really great tips. It’s important for tweens to understand the risks of OTC Meds.

  15. Such a good idea to give them a little lecture on this subject!

  16. Paula Schuck says:

    I think this is a great post in such an important topic. You never know that’s the thing you never know for sure what they’re thinking and whether they have a really bad day and think hey what if I tried this? I know my one has trouble swallowing pills so I’m pretty sure I could have this lecture with her and it would be totally successful and stuff but it is really important to agree absolutely. I hear this commercial up here in Canada it’s a government related announcement I think a public service announcement it’s on about you know 50% of tweens get their medicine or get their drugs from a place close to home and then it like shows your medicine cabinet kind of thing they’re getting them from their parents and the parents don’t even know. So absolutely 100% agree I need to have this conversation during a calm time at my house when my kids are receptive to hearing the information and that’s probably it’s a good time for this lesson over the Christmas holidays I think.

  17. Awesome tips – I don’t really have any kids yet but this is such a nice awareness.

  18. I’m thankful that kiddo has a lot of medical workers in her little circle so she has had it beat into her head since she was itty bitty to never ever touch things in cabinets and put them into her mouth.

  19. Angela says:

    This is such good information. At that age, they think they are all grown up. Reading drug labels is something we all should be doing.

  20. That is the perfect age to learn about OTC medication. That’s about how old I was.

  21. It is really scary to think about how something simple in your home can be so dangerous. All of our meds are out of reach, but we will certainly have to discuss this with J and H as they get older.

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