Parents have always struggled to get their children to get them to take their medicine. The reasons may vary. Some kids do not like the taste of the medicine or have trouble swallowing a capsule, while others dislike being asked to do anything when they are sick. Physically forcing a child to take the medicine can lead to serious problems as well such as vomiting or choking. Even if you succeed, PBS points out that if you have to hold a child down to give him medicine once, you will likely have to do it again and again.
You need to get your child to cooperate, and the good news is that there are tricks parents can use in order to get their child to take their medicine. Here are a few examples, along with some warnings of when some tricks may not be the best idea.
- A Spoonful of Something
- Be Positive
- Practice Swallowing Pills in Advance
- Give your Child a Choice (Well, sort of)
- Speak to your Doctor
We all know the Mary Poppins song, and mixing something sweet to mask the bad taste of medicine can make it easier to go down. If the medicine is in a syrup, you can mix it with fruit juices and give it to the child all at once. If it is in a pill, crush it and mix it in with your child’s favorite dish before they make sure they eat it.
While this is generally ok, make sure with your doctor before you try this. Some pills lose their potency if they are crushed, and certain food and drug combinations can result in adverse effects. Furthermore, make sure your child consumes all of the food or drink to make sure they have received the entire dosage.
Because children only take medicine when they are in a bad condition, it is easy for them to think of medicine as a bad thing which comes with sickness as opposed to something which makes them better. You have to fix that misunderstanding by staying positive and rational.
If your child is old enough, explain why taking medicine is good for them. Be honest with your child and do not tell them that the medicine will taste good if it will not. But explain that the medicine will help them get better, which will help them get out of bed and play with their friends.
Even if explaining does not work, stay positive during the process. Praise the child when the medicine is consumed, smile, and generally stay upbeat. Give them a reward such as a sticker or small toy. Above all, look to encourage your child into taking the medicine instead of trying to intimidate or anger him.
Pills can be particularly problematic for children to take. Pills do have an advantage in that they are generally tasteless. However, many children have trouble swallowing them, especially under the stresses of sickness.
In order to get them ready for pills, Kids Health recommends teaching your children to swallow pills in advance, preferably when they are at least four years old. Start small with a sweet treat such as a chocolate chip or small candy such as a cut up Jolly Rancher, and steadily work your child’s way up to larger treats and eventually vitamins. In addition to teaching the child to swallow, it makes them think that pills are not a bad things and thus makes them more likely to take medication.
As noted above, children often do not like to take medicine because they are forced to do so. While there can be no negotiation on whether the child takes it or not, you can offer them other, smaller choices to help them feel that they are in control.
For example, you can give your child the choice of which cup they want to use to drink the medicine out of, or give them a choice of rewards after the medicine is taken. Make sure that the choices they can make are all positive choices which make them feel grown up and happy.
Unfortunately, sometimes your child may be completely recalcitrant and refuse to take medication. The Seattle Children’s Hospital does detail how two people working together can forcibly administer medication, but does warn to never use this technique if the medication is not needed.
While you may need to do that once, speak to your detox and rehab doctor if your child shows a continued refusal to take medicine. Ask if you can find a different kind of medicine, such as one which tastes better or one which can be administered differently like a suppository.
Also contact your doctor if your child spits or vomits out medicine. You want to avoid giving your child too large a dosage, and sometimes it can be an indication that the medicine does not agree with the child’s body.