8 tips for helping your child take medicine

May 09, 2017
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Having a sick child can be scary and stressful for parents and caregivers. We want to know what’s wrong and how to help our little ones feel better. Sometimes the key is medicine but kids resist, adding to our stress and their misery.


Here are some tips and tricks to help make taking medicine easier on both of you.

Have a positive attitude

Children feed off parent’s emotions.  If you are visibly stressed about your child taking medicine, he or she will pick up on this and become stressed before you’ve even begun. Try to be calm and positive and your child will pick up on this, too.

Give choices

Choices give children some control in situations they feel are imposed on them.  What may seem like a small choice to you can make all the difference to your child.

You can let kids decide whether they’d like to take their medicine in a cup or with a syringe.  Perhaps they’d like to drink the medicine themselves, or take it with your help. 

One note: When you give choices, avoid questions that require “yes” or “no” answers. These can backfire. For example, if you ask your child if he is ready to take his medicine, he can say “no,” even though he has to take it. This takes away his ability to make a choice.

Instead, tell your child that it’s time to take the medicine (not a choice), and he can choose how to take it.

Be honest

If a medicine doesn’t taste good, don’t tell your child it does. You may get your child to take the medicine at that moment, but he or she won’t trust you afterward and you’ll be setting the stage for resistance the next time.
 

Mask the flavor

For liquid medicines, see if your pharmacist can add a flavor or do it at home. You also can add medicine to food such as yogurt. Or you can have something ready for your child to eat immediately after they take medicine. A spoon of chocolate syrup might be a good chaser.

Sometimes, eating something cold, like an ice pop, beforehand can help numb the taste buds. 

Letting your child choose an option is another way to give them some control.

Bypass the tongue

If you can use a syringe, you can squirt the medicine into the back of the cheek and rub the child’s throat immediately after to help them swallow.

Change the dose

If the medication is to be given more than once or twice a day, ask your doctor or pharmacist if it’s possible to prescribe a stronger dose to cut down on the number of times the child needs to take it.

Practice swallowing for pills

Swallowing pills can be very challenging for children. You can help them learn by practicing with candy beforehand. Start slowly with something small like Nerds or cupcake sprinkles. 

Gradually increase the size of the candy until it’s similar to the medication the child must swallow. M&M Minis, Tic Tac mints and Mike and Ike candies are some options. 

You can also check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if larger pills can be cut up into small pieces.  Some pills aren’t as effective this way, so do be sure to ask first.  

To avoid pills altogether, find out whether a prescribed medication is available in a liquid instead.  

Promise a reward

Of course, if all else fails, there is always bribery. The most important thing to remember is to NEVER give your child a reward before he or she takes the medicine.  If you do, there’s no incentive for your child to follow through and you’ve lost your leverage.  Also, rewarding a child doesn’t always have to mean they get something special each time they take their medicine.  

Perhaps, if they’re old enough to have screen time, they could earn the privilege of watching an episode of their favorite show or be allowed a set amount of time to play a game on a tablet or game system.  Picking an activity they enjoy as a reward can be a huge motivator.



Have you found a painless way to get your child to take medicine? Share your tip in our comments section. 
Topics: Kids, Medicine