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Kids Gone Wild: Intimidation Of Parents In The ER

Ah, the benefits of sand therapy!

Time for little Bettina’s daily afternoon face plant!

Not only does it appear my colleague is about to lose her grip on her patient, I’m concerned about her choice of body mechanics.

I predict a lumbar strain in 3…2…1……

(This photo is from the Library of Congress collection.)

**********

I love my pediatric patients. While it is hard to see children feeling sick, they can be bright spots in occasionally hellacious shifts.

I’ve blogged before on my observation that the kids seem to be the adults in the some families.

  • They don’t want to undress for an exam, so they fight the parents who are helpless in the face of taking a shirt off a three-year-old.
  • They have to be restrained so they don’t run rampant in the ER, and they slap their parent across the face. The parent doesn’t respond.
  • They are told they need to cooperate with a procedure and they answer their parent with a loud, clear, “F*** YOU!” At the age of five. The parent retreats.

Interestingly, I see it in families at all economic levels, in a variety of ethnic groups and cultures, and in families where the parents are both younger (teens, twenties) and older (forties).

Unfortunately, it is becoming less rare.

Part of me wants to go into a rant on the lack of discipline of the younger generation (….and get off my lawn while I’m at it!)

But this is serious.

These kids are my patients.

And this lack of parental assertiveness, this fear of standing up to their children, is affecting their health.

*****

“She doesn’t want it.”

“He wouldn’t take it.”

“He just wasn’t up to taking any medicine.”

This is the response of many parents when asked if their children received any medication for their fevers.

Parents who are sitting in the emergency department with a sick, febrile child are allowing said children, ages 18 months to 5 years old, to decide whether or not they will take medication for fever!

But it gets better/worse…they take the same stance with their antibiotics.

*****

And this makes me seethe.

Parents, are you out of your minds?

A child is dependent on you to protect them and to do the right thing to keep them from harm. When it comes to illness, that means making the child take their medication.

  • That’s right. Make them take it.
  • As in force them to take it.
  • As in hold them down, restrain their movements, ignore their screaming, administer the medication and don’t stop until it has been swallowed.

I don’t care if they don’t want it.

I don’t care if they don’t like it.

I don’t care if they aren’t “up to it”.

They do not have a choice. They are children.

They will cry, and get over it.

They will scream, and get over it.

They will kick, and get over it.

They will be mad at you, and you will get over it.

*****

If you choose to allow your child to intimidate you, slap you or cuss you out without discipline, that is your perogative.

Good luck when they are adolescents, you (and society) will reap what you have sown.

But that child cannot make decisions for himself and you had better damn well step up to the plate as a parent and take responsibility for making sure that child takes the medication he needs.

Not medicating your child because they don’t want it or don’t like it is flat out abdicating your parental responsibility.

Someone needs to be the grown-up in this situation.

That needs to be you.

***********************************

The technique of giving medication to a little one who tends to gag, throw up or (as they get a bit older) spit can be tricky. I have a way of administering oral medication that seems to stop that in its tracks.

Disclaimer – this is NOT medical advice, it just worked for my kids. I use a medication syringe and place a tiny amount of medication inside the cheek. A tiny amount. That way, it doesn’t go to the back of the throat and cause gagging and it isn’t on the tongue so they can’t spit it out. When they swallow (and they will, even if they are screaming, they will reflexively swallow eventually) I repeat.

It takes a little longer to give the medication this way, but it works with all ages (until they are able/willing to drink from a med cup) and it gets the medication down. No gagging, no vomiting, no spitting! : )

*This blog post was originally published at Emergiblog*


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One Response to “Kids Gone Wild: Intimidation Of Parents In The ER”

  1. Schumacher Group says:

    Great post! This really points out the need for adequately staffed emergency rooms. Thanks for pointing this out.

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