Make us your home page

Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Use mini M&Ms to teach kids to take pills



Medicine Cold and flu season is in full rage, and so is the battle to get kids to take medicine.

Maybe it's because they are also finicky eaters, but my kids have always hated to swallow liquid medicine, no matter the flavor. Imagine the frustration of trying to comfort a child with a raging fever who can't manage to swallow the medicine that will take the infection away or relieve the pain. Not even Mary Poppins' cheery advice would make this medicine go down. The toddler wasn't the only one in tears.

We tried mixing it with milk shakes, applesauce or yogurt but that rarely worked. Then we concentrated on getting the right medicine flavor, but even the popular bubble gum flavored antibiotic was rejected. The vanilla milky Omnicef was the only one they seemed able to choke down. Then when it came to pain reliever, only the grape-flavored Motrin would do. That was an expensive series of experiments, let me tell ya.

Too often, I resorted to some sort of bribe to get him to take it in one shot, followed by a favorite drink and then it was off to the video store to rent the bribe (usually a game, because then I could use playing time as my bribe for the next dosage). I want to add here that I got a lot further with empathy than power plays. Simply saying "I know this stinks that you hate the flavor of this medicine and it must be hard for you" made a battle a lot less likely.

Mm_2 So we had good motivation to get our kids to take pills instead of liquid medicine -- and so did they. At about the age of 5 we had a talk when he was healthy about how much he doesn't like to drink medicine and how life would probably be easier for all of us if he learned to take pills like Mommy and Daddy do. To practice, we used mini M&Ms and I first demonstrated by putting it far back in the tongue. For a visual tip, I explained we were sending it "down the river" in one swallow.

For both kids, it ended up being surprisingly easy to teach and they were so proud of themselves that they were doing such a grown up thing. So recently when my 6 year old had a battle with strep, I got the antibiotic in pill form. Unfortunately, they were those chalky white pills and kind of large so we had to cut them in half and he struggled sometimes to get them "down the river" in one swallow.

But every time he started to get frustrated over the bitter melting pill in his mouth, I reminded him we could just go back to the drinkable medicine. In a snap, he was back at the counter to get a refill on his drink to swallow his pill.

-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 10:58am]


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours