5 Medications Kids Should Never Take

kidsmedsWhen you pick up a bottle of over-the-counter medication to treat symptoms of an illness in your child, you do so with the belief that anything you can purchase from a pharmacy shelf is probably safe for use. While over-the-counter medications may be marketed to kids, not all of them are actually safe for every child, and some can even cause severe adverse reactions. Despite the rigorous testing involved in the approval process before a drug hits the shelves, there are some medications that simply aren’t safe for young children. Before you reach for a box or a bottle to treat your sick child, make sure that the substance you’re planning to use isn’t one of these dangerous drugs.

  • Aspirin – For adults, aspirin can be a helpful medication. It has fever-reducing and pain-relieving qualities, and can be of assistance in a wide range of situations. For kids under the age of 19, however, aspirin can be the cause of a rare but serious health condition that can be fatal. If your child is suffering from a fever, you may want to treat it with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, but make sure that you’re administering only age-appropriate doses and following the directions carefully. Also, be sure that you look for an “aspirin free” listing on the label of any medicine you purchase over the counter, because some kids’ medications still contain aspirin despite the associated Reye’s Syndrome risk.
  • Cough and Cold Medicines – When your child is suffering, you want to do anything you can to alleviate her pain. While you may seek to treat the symptoms that are causing her discomfort, it’s important to note that the American Academy of Pediatrics specifically warns against using over-the-counter cough and cold medications for toddlers because their research indicates that they don’t actually have an effect on cold symptoms and can even be harmful if a dose is slightly miscalculated. Rapid heart rate, convulsions, hives and even death can result from overuse of a cold medication, so it’s best to contact a physician or pharmacist if your child has a severe cold or cough, rather than attempting to treat it with OTC drugs.
  • Ipecac – Once a staple of the home medicine cabinet, syrup of ipecac has been used in the past to induce vomiting when poisoning is suspected. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend use of this folk remedy, as vomiting has not been shown to be effective in the treatment of poison ingestion cases and can actually cause more harm. If you do have syrup of ipecac on hand, it’s advised that you throw it out and prevent accidental poisoning by locking up potentially harmful substances instead.
  • Medications Meant for Another Age Group – Giving your child a larger dose of medication intended for infants can be just as dangerous as administering a small dose of one intended for an adult, which means that neither practice is safe or recommended. Medications intended for infants are more highly concentrated than most people realize, making it easy to inadvertently over-dose your child with them. Instead, find an age-appropriate treatment or contact a medical professional for advice.
  • Anti-Nausea Medication – In cases of dehydration caused by excessive vomiting, your child’s doctor may recommend an anti-nausea medication or write a prescription for one. Otherwise, you should never administer them to your child. There are risks involved when your child takes any medication, and episodic vomiting is rarely severe enough to warrant taking that risk with your child’s health.

Some of these medications may be recommended by a physician or pediatrician. Generally speaking, this is the only time when it’s safe to administer them to your child. Unless you’re under direct instruction from your child’s primary care physician, it’s just not a good idea to take the risk and administer them to your little one.

5 Reasons You Should Never Spank Your Child

spankedSpanking: Just the word is enough to make some people shudder with the memory of a punishment that went too far. Although fewer children are spanked today than in the past, the practice still persists, despite evidence of the harm it causes. There is no shortage of sociological evidence that spanking a child is harmful to their physical health and psychological well-being.

It’s imperative that parents, nannies, family members and other caretakers who encourage spanking understand what the practice really means. Here are some reasons you should never spank your child:

It increases the risk of accidental death or severe injury.

Although it may not be your intention to cause serious injury or death, it has happened numerous times. The risk should not be underestimated. In 2008, for example, more than 1,700 children died as a result of either abuse or neglect, and adults in a rage often don’t realize their own strength and the fragility of children’s bodies. Inflicting physical harm on a child, even in a “controlled” situation, is always risky. Besides injuring a child’s muscles, it’s possible to damage his internal organs.

It teaches improper social values.

Spanking means treating a child like an object, not a human being, and it’s a punitive measure that devalues children overall. This can have any number of negative side effects: children might come to equate punishment with pain or assume that loving relationships are built on physical corrections. Spanking passes on a lack of respect for others.

It causes psychological harm.

Damage done to a child’s mind may not appear until years later. Sometimes, the harm may take the form of an inhibited personality, but at other times it can manifest as a neurotic or psychotic problem when children get into their teen or adult years. All forms of child abuse, even those rendered in the name of punishment, have long-term effects. Spanking has been shown to erode developmental growth and cause serious harm. Moreover, children look at their parents as a source of love, and spanking can make a child feel unwanted and unloved. Even if the parent later makes up for the spanking, the damage has been done because the sense of trust has been broken.

It encourages violence.

Unfortunately, children who are spanked tend to spank their own children, continuing the cycle of violence down through the generations. Psychiatrist Alice Miller found that abusive parents, criminals, tyrants and dictators all had one thing in common: an abusive childhood. Fortunately, not every abused child becomes violent when they grow up, though sometimes the violence is inner-directed through harmful addictions like drug or alcohol. Spanking your child plants the seed of the idea that violence solves problems.

It can damage personality.

A 2012 study found that spanking was associated with an increased risk of mental disorders in adulthood. In other words, if someone is spanked as a child, he’s more likely to grow up struggling with alcohol and substance abuse, anxiety or mood disorders, or more. What more parents have to realize is that abuse doesn’t just manifest itself in the classical forms (extreme physical or sexual assault) that most people recognize; it can be as “mild” as spanking and still be just as damaging to a child’s future.

Spanking is not a solution to childhood misbehavior. There are other ways of correcting a child that do not have negative consequences. A trusting relationship with a child will allow both the parent and the child the opportunity to engage in a meaningful discussion. Parenting is about forging a bond with your child, and spanking can damage that bond beyond repair.