Food Storage & Other Adventures in Motherhood

How to Get Your Children to Take Their Medicine

by heather
Last week my son came down with a nasty case of tonsillitis. A few days later my daughter started with a cough and sore throat. We went back to the doctor and she had tonsillitis, a respiratory infection and and ear infection. This means lots of medicine for the little people at my house. Getting small children to take medicine is easier said than done, but entirely necessary. I can’t tell you how many time I’ve had patients admitted to the hospital because their parents couldn’t/wouldn’t make them take their medicine. I know that forcing your children to take their medicine can be unpleasant, but I can promise that it’s not as traumatic as their condition worsening and then requiring blood draws and IV starts. Here are some tips for getting the job done.
  1. Have a good attitude. You are the parent, not the punisher, and children will respond to your approach. Smile and use a happy voice.
  2. Explain to your child in simple terms that they need to take their medicine so they can get better. Sometimes if you let them know what’s going on they will cooperate.
  3. Don’t back down. This is not up for negotiation. Some battles are worth fighting and this is one of them.
  4. Model with a toy or a doll first. Talk about how taking the medicine helps dolly to feel better.
  5. Let them do it themselves. Some children will take their medicine with little fuss if they get to feel like they are somewhat in control of the process. (Many kids love to push the stopper on the back of the syringe themselves.) If they can’t do it themselves, let them pick which spoon or what to drink it with.
  6. Add food coloring. It can be fun if your child gets to pick what color the medicine is.
  7. Bribery. Yes, this is not the best answer to every problem, but taking medicine can be unpleasant and sometimes they need a little incentive. Pick something that appeals to them, stickers, candy, an extra half hour of TV, a prize, whatever it takes to get the job done. (Whether we admit it or not, as adults we take bribes too. Like when I go into work extra when I’m exhausted and my house is a mess because they offer me money.) However, if they won’t take the bait, don’t give up.
  8. Threats (valid and relevant ones, mind you) “If you don’t take your medicine you won’t get better, and if you’re sick we can’t play with friends or go to fun places.” This generally won’t work on 2 (and sometimes 3) and under. They have to be to the point that they’re thinking about things past the here and now and making connections between cause and effect.
  9. Hide it in food. Chocolate pudding, juice, smoothies and apple sauce are good mediums. Just make sure that you mix the medicine in a small quantity (but big enough to hide it) so you can know that they got the whole thing. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if your particular med is ok to mix with food, and it’s generally not a good idea if it is something that they need to take long-term.
  10. Hide it in syrup. FlavoRx is product found in many pharmacies, grocery and drug stores. It comes in 42 flavors and is specifically for hiding medicine. Just remember that, it means that much more quantity that you have to get your child to swallow.
  11. Less is more. If you do have to hide it, it’s often easier to do so if your doctor prescribes the concentrated pill form that can be crushed and mixed versus the less-concentrated quantity (less potential for overdose) that comes with a children’s elixir.
  12. Offer a chaser. Something they like to wash it down with and get rid of the medicine aftertaste. Root beer and chocolate are both very effective. Especially with medications like Lortab elixir, which tastes horrendous.
  13. Distraction. I use this one a lot at work. Children can sometimes be fairly compliant when in a “TV trance” or watching bubbles. If they are distracted their mouth will usually drop open, offering “a window”.
  14. Have back-up available. Either to distract or hold resistant hands out of the way.
  15. Use a small syringe. If the syringe is too big for your child’s mouth, it is easier to shove it out of the way with their tongue. If your pharmacist didn’t include a plastic syringe, ask for one. They’re generally free with a medication purchase.
  16. Aim for the back of their cheek and squirt so they don’t taste it as much and it is difficult to spit out. If you squirt the medicine straight towards the back of their throat it can cause them to gag, cough and sometimes vomit. That’s exactly what you don’t need.
  17. Pinch their cheeks right behind their molars with your thumb on one cheek and your middle finger on the other. Not my favorite method because it’s uncomfortable for the child, but sometimes necessary and very effective. This will pry open clinched teeth and make it difficult for them to spit.
  18. Small quantities at a time. If you put too much in their mouth at once it will come right back at you, making all previous efforts futile. Plus then you’re sticky and smell like medicine.
  19. Blow between their eyes. This usually works if they have it in their mouth, but are refusing to swallow. This method triggers a reflex that will get them to swallow. (This works best in the 3 and under population.)
  20. Try something else. Perhaps you need another flavor, another brand, another route. Keep trying until the job gets done. Let your doctor know that what you’re trying isn’t working and s/he may have other suggestions.
  21. Have a routine. This is especially important if it is a medication that they have to take long-term.
  22. And lastly hold them down and force them. If all else fails try this. For smaller kids (infant-3) papoose them and force small quantities into their mouth. For older kids (4-9) I’ll sit behind them, cross their legs together and then wrap my legs over them so them so they can’t kick. Then I cross their arms at the wrists and hold them over their head with my left arm leaving my right hand free to give the medication. I only do this after I have tried everything else.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Scrappy Theme by Caroline Moore | Copyright 2019 Secrets of a Food Storage Mom | Powered by WordPress