Medication Management: Helping Teens Help Themselves

Medication Management: Helping Teens Help Themselves

Before you know it, your teen will be taking the leap into the adult world — attending college or starting a full-time job. The ideal time to transition your teen to medication independence is during junior year of high school. To begin the shift, try using the scaffolding approach to teach your teen: I Do, We Do, You Do. Scaffolding means to slowly move your child towards understanding and independence. Here’s a breakdown of the scaffolding method:

I Do – Explicit Modeling

The parent performs the action while providing a verbal description of what they are doing.

We Do – Shared Demonstration and Guided Practice

During shared demonstration, the teen performs the action, while the parent provides verbal directions, reminders and corrections.

During guided practice, the teen performs the action, and the parent provides only verbal directions.

You Do – Independent Practice

The parent provides written directions and the teen completes all actions. Once your teen can complete their medication routine with only written directions, they are ready for medication independence.

Tips for Helping Teens Gain Independence in Medication Management

  • Teens need to be experts on their medications.
    • Make it a research project. Have your teen research their medications and write out the following information:
      • Brand and generic name of all medications
      • Dosage they take in measurements (mg) and number of pills
      • Times medication should be taken
      • Common side effects and negative interactions of medications (ex: supplements and alcohol)
    • Teach daily management of medication.
      • Medication should be a part of the daily routine done at the same time, in the same order each day. Use phone alarms as a reminder to take medications, and make sure the tone is unique so it cannot be overlooked.
      • Install a medication app on their phone to keep them organized.
      • Talk to your physician about adjusting dose timing in a way that makes sense for your teen’s schedule.
      • Make sure your teen keeps a list of their medications and doses with them at all times.
    • Set up a pill system that works for your teen.
      • Explore options to find the right weekly pill box, and find a convenient place to keep the box that is visited daily.
    • Prepare a refill system that works for your teen.
      • Agree on when a refill should be made.
      • Consider using a pharmacy that provides app-based refills and reminders.
      • Consider using at 24-hour pharmacy that teens can visit after hours, when they realize they forgot to pick up their refill.

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