Have you seen that movie Outbreak?–Where the monkey gives a guy a disease and everyone starts dying? You know that scene where they’re in the movie theater and the guy is having a coughing fit and all of his spit particles are flying through the theater and into the mouths of the laughing spectators?

Gross right?

I think about that every time I see someone cough without covering their mouths. So basically that’s every day. At least at my house.

Each one of my family members handles their coughs differently, and it’s kind of hilarious. And disgusting.

My daughter is the textbook example of coughing politely. She covers her mouth using her elbow or hands, washes her hands, and sometimes even excuses herself before asking for a cup of water.

teaching kids to wash their hands

My husband is the opposite. He has had a lingering cough for more than a week and sometimes he just coughs and coughs all over the place. No tissue, no hand to the mouth, or elbow to the face. Just lets it all out as if by coughing hard and far enough, he will be able to stop coughing. Meanwhile I’m gagging in the corner.

My son is an attention-seeking cougher. Every single time he will cough, then look at me, and continue to cough until I ask if he is ok. Sometimes this goes on for several moments, then he walks over to me and lightly “coughs” in my face. But as soon as I ask “are you ok?” he says “yea!” and walks away. This could be over after 1 little cough, or after 1 little cough and 99 pretend ones, depending how long it takes me to ask if he’s ok. I should use this opportunity to teach him how to cover his mouth.


Me? Well. I never get sick (I just said this to my husband yesterday and he told me I just gave myself the kiss of death) but when I do I seem to feel better pretty quick. I try to cover my mouth with my elbow, because I feel like coughing in my hands is gross. Though if I did, I just wash my hands after. Maybe sometimes I let a cough or two fly, if it comes out before I catch it. I’m sorry. It’s gross. I don’t want you catching my cough particles either.

If we can all just stay in this cough-zone I’ll be ok. I’m just hoping we can all hold it together. I can handle a house-full of coughs so long as it doesn’t get worse before Christmas. Maybe I’ll read up about lemon water and honey or some natural stuff like that.

As we enter into this yucky season a little PSA to remember to carefully read the labels on all of your over the counter medications. Use the correct dose and measuring device when you’re giving your kids medicine. It was a really good refresher for me to read these KnowYourOTC safety tips for parents. Here are a few:

  • Only use the medicine that treats your child’s specific symptoms.
  • Never give two medicines with any of the same active ingredients.
  • Never use cough, cold, or allergy medicines to sedate your child.
  • Do not give a medicine only intended for adults to a child.

A 2014 study in the journal Pediatrics reported that every eight minutes, a child under the age of 6 experiences a medication error outside of the doctor’s office or hospital. Let’s not let that be us mmmk?

And please, for heaven’s sake, let’s not become that guy on Outbreak. Use good coughing (and sneezing) manners. Cover your mouths!

kids medicine safety tips

This story was sponsored by the CHPA’s educational foundation KnowYourOTCs program. As always, all opinions are my own

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  1. My daughter coughs if she is thirsty. And always have to remind my son to cover his mouth. He’ll sneeze on the keyboard. I remember getting medicine with a spoon as a kid. These days I always use the cup that comes with the bottle.

  2. Such an important social grace and courtesy! Many adults need to get the message, LOL! Cute photos! Here’s to a sick-free winter, with coughing mouths covered!

  3. My kids are the same. My daughter uses her elbow religiously. My son is inconsistent and continues coughing in my direction until I confirm that I have heard the cough and that he is still living. Good reminder about using proper measuring devices and not spoons like when we were kids.

  4. I had to laugh at this post, because I can relate. I have the gamut of cough-ers in my house too. I rarely medicate coughs, but sometimes you just have to get relief before it runs it’s course.

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