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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Getting a kid to take his medicine



Medicine A friend of mine is struggling with her 3 year old, trying to coax him to take his medicine for strep throat and some Tylenol to reduce the fever. I'll bet you can just guess how easy that is.

It brings back memories of me in tears with a 2 year old on my lap with a raging fever and strep throat and I could not get the medicine or the Motrin down him to make him better. I tried everything -- ice cream, apple sauce, pudding -- but he could still taste it and spit it out. More tears from me, more expensive medicine wasted. Ugh.  

With two reluctant medicine takers, here's some of the tips I've gleaned over the years:

Mix it up. Try mixing the medicine with something yummy like ice cream, apple sauce, Nutella, yogurt, soda -- whatever might make it more palatable. You could also try offering one Skittle or M&M for every sip of medicine. Sip ... Skittle ... Repeat.

Use pure bribery. I promised to head to Blockbuster to rent a video game or a movie. But I wouldn't  start the car until he took his medicine. That's his Achilles heel, and I knew it. Whatever you normally try to limit and deny, use it. Candy, popsicles, chocolate, treats, extra TV time -- and clap and cheer like crazy when he does take the meds.

Empathy, empathy, empathy. Simply say, "I know this is tough. I feel bad for you since I know you don't like it. How about I have a milkshake ready as soon as you take it get the taste out of your mouth?" Acknowledging their feelings went a long way, as well as getting their suggestions for what the after-medicine treat should be.

Call the doctor.  You might get to the point where you have tried everything and you have to ask the doctor if you can come in and get a shot or a suppository. He's in pain and you can't get him any relief.  

Force it down. This is the option most parents least like, but sometimes it's all that's left. If you have to force him, using a syringe and putting the medicine into the pocket of his cheek (outside his teeth) makes it almost impossible for him to spit it out. It'll break your heart, but there you go.

Learn to take pills. Because my kids hate almost all liquid medicine, I used this as incentive to teach them how to take pills. We used mini M&Ms for practice and both my kids could down pills at age 4 (well, late-4s, nearly 5). That has made life so much easier because they take great pride in doing it and I make a big deal about how even teenagers have trouble taking pills, so they are very proud of themselves and don't give me any trouble.

-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:04am]


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