Giving medicine

"My 4 3/4 year old daughter simply hates to take any kind of medicine, both liquid and chewable tablets. Each dose to be taken becomes a horrible power struggle ending in tears. We've tried every trick - even mixing it with chocolate syrup - nothing helps. Any suggestions?"

"Some of our more interesting moments have been spent giving our now 5 year old his medicine. Since he's been hospitalized several times with croup & asthma we've got to give him medicine. Several tips - Don't show any ambivalence - Tell them they must take it and hold them in a manner not giving any choice. Try a needle-less syringe to give liquids - You can put it further back or in the sides of the mouth which gives less taste. Try giving the child a popsicle and let them lick it before, and in between portions of the medicine. Seems to numb the taste buds. Switch flavors of Tylenol - grape chewable works at our house."

"This is a tough one. The only thing that would work for us was explaining that she wouldn't get better without the medicine and that she would have to take it and we needed her co-operation. We'd often have a glass of water to chase it with to get rid of unpleasant aftertastes."

"Choose a time when there is no medicine that must be taken. Sit down and explain to her about the necessity of taking medicine when the doctor prescribes, and ask for her suggestions as to better ways to take it, the next time she has to. If she can come up with different ideas, she'll feel more in control of the process. My mother-in-law did something she called `pill practice'. She would let the kids practice taking tablets by trying with M&M's first. Then, if it wouldn't go down, at least they liked the taste and wouldn't gag. If this works for your daughter, she might actually prefer capsules to chewable!"

"I often resort to reverse psychology - i.e.: `I bet you can't take this', etc., whatever it takes to influence them to do it on their own. Follow with big surprise reaction from mom - `Oh my, did you really do that all by yourself?' Let her know you are proud of her for accomplishing this and allow her to select a small treat for her reward. I use Tootsie Rolls and Hershey Kisses from a candy dish."

"Mention it to your doctor - she may need to have injections instead of oral meds, if giving her choices (like with discipline) does not work."

"You can not afford to lose the power struggle. Explain that she has no choice in taking the medicine. Help her explore methods for her to take her medicine and let her make a choice. Give her 5 minutes or whatever seems reasonable to choose a method. Set a timer for this to help get you out of the power struggle. Hopefully she'll co-operate without you forcing her to take her medicine as I'm sure that's uncomfortable for all concerned. Do set up a reward for her if she can do some of the problem solving - gum, sticker, extra story, a bus ride or whatever she likes. Also check with the doctor regarding a shot instead of long term oral medicine as sometimes that can be arranged."

"My son was horrible and it took 2 of us to tackle him, get the liquid in and hold a hand over his mouth till he swallowed, followed by a ready glass of water, which he gulped down in tears. Then, after 3 medicines for earache one winter, he just decided to sit up and swallow! Hang in there and try what you can. It will pass soon - she's already nearly 5 years old and soon will give up the fight and understand. Talk to her about it as much as you can, listening to her side of the story - sometime when you aren't going to give her any medicine."

"Ask your Dr. to enlist her help, to take her medicine. Let her take it herself - get a variety of interesting containers (medicine spoon, tiny cup, shot glass, stirring straws) and rinse the container w/milk, water, or a favorite juice to make sure she gets all the medicine & get the medicine taste out of her mouth. Be matter-of-fact, no bribes or threats or games, just `you need to take this to help you get better' (or whatever). Tell her you will help her make it not so hard to take, but she still has to take it, and you understand she doesn't want to."

"At 4 3/4 she can probably tell you why there is a problem. Is it the taste? The after-taste? The texture? Maybe a reward after the deed is done would work, like a sticker or an extra story or a stick of chewing gum. Sometimes giving them some control over the situation helps: let them decide if they want it in tablet or liquid form at the pharmacy, let them decide which 3 times a day to take it, or in which room to do it, or what they will drink after it's over. Sometimes you can combine it with a `forbidden' thing, like playing a tape real loud, or starting supper with the applesauce. It's important though, to let kids this age express their anger or annoyance at having to do it, while you remain firm that it must be done."

"Sometimes you can dilute the medicine with just a small amount of water to take the `edge' off it. I try to keep the amount small enough so they can still get it all down in one swallow, though. Then I have a cup of water right there for them to drink as soon as they've swallowed the medicine, to wash the taste out of their mouth. I've also found that counting to 3 helps. It seems to be just enough incentive or motivation to get them to act. Also, when our children were watching `Mary Poppins' a lot, I used to act out the scene where Mary Poppins tells the children `People who get their feet wet must learn to take their medicine', and then the children take the medicine and find out it tastes like candy. We would sometimes sing the `Spoonful of Sugar' song as well."

"If your child is really sick, then she has to somehow get the medicine. Try putting it in a milkshake or something that tastes good, but, without letting her know. That can be done with liquid or a tablet crushed. If she is really not all that sick, I wouldn't force it. If you make a big deal out of it, and she starts to cry, the only way she'll take the medicine is if you force it. It isn't worth it and then she'll always relate taking medicine as a bad experience."

"With a child of that age, reason may work better than `tricks'. Perhaps she needs to have a say in the process, which spoon to use, which flavor of tablet, etc. Also stress, in a matter-of-fact way, that this medicine is an important part of helping her get healthy again."

"Shortly before our new baby was born, personal power became an important issue for our 3 year old. Getting her to take medicine was always a battle until we found ourselves in a situation which would allow her some legitimate power. Nine months pregnant, I had heartburn almost every night and found relief in taking a bit of Maalox. She would pour my medicine for me and encourage me to take it. When I grudgingly took it she'd cheer me on, all the while quite impressed with her parental power. Since then she is more understanding of the need for medicine and more co-operative when it's her turn."

"In our home my children get a try on their own to take any new medicine. If they won't take it willingly then I use the trick I learned as a nurse giving children their shots. I pin them down by laying or kneeling over their arms. Then I squish their lips open and pour the medicine down a little at a time. On the side of their mouths by the cheek so they don't choke and can't spit it out. I do this very matter of factly. there is no option when they are taking antibiotics. They must take them, on schedule and the correct amount. A time or two by force and they will easily take them the regular way. Mom must win this battle. They are always offered a drink of water after. A syringe to squirt the dose in is very helpful. You can get that from the Dr. It may seem harsh, but you can't fool around with antibiotics. With my 18 month old, I will lay over her on the changing table. I do not yell or scream. The know that there is no issue. They will take their medicine period. I've worked with too many kids that thought they had a choice when they were having something unpleasant done. It is harder on the kids to learn they have no choice than to face things honestly and matter of factly before hand. Yes this medicine tastes bad but you must take it. You may have a lot of water after to wash the taste out your mouth. I've never had trouble."

"Feel good that she will probably not become a Crack addict or more immediately that there will not be an accidental overdose. Explain need for medicine in emergencies, read books about it. Ask her how she would like to take it - she would have some control then."

"My children both have allergies, ear infections and asthma so they have to take medicine fairly often. I gave up on the tricks long ago, they weren't working. I have found that with both of them (One is 4 years old and one is 14 months old) I get more co-operation if I allow them some control in taking the medicine, (In other words, I measure out the dose of liquid, tablets, etc., then hand it to them to take.) I also have explained, and continue to explain, that this is medicine and they need to take the correct amount at the correct time in order to feel better. I realize this approach won't work with all children but it has certainly worked with mine."

"Have you tried a syringe type medicine dropper?"

"How about mixing liquids with milk, juice, yogurt, etc. Our infant daughter also dislikes taking medicine and we've gotten very creative with giving medicine, because our first efforts were, at times, disastrous. The worst being her coughing or vomiting it and what ever she'd eaten up. We thought there had to be a better way. We mix it with food and give most of it in her first bites. Since your daughter is older sh's more aware of what you're trying to do. So maybe if you mix it with a small amount with a favorite drink or if it must be a chewable medicine, crush it up and mix it with yogurt, or something creamy that she likes! My mom used to give us aspirin crushed up in a teaspoon of our favorite jelly or jam. It worked."

"We weren't able to disguise medicine in foods or juice and resorted to acetaminophen in suppository form so that we could at least bring down fevers. You can get them from the pharmacist - they are kept refrigerated. When it came to antibiotic we forced it down as best we could by holding their heads back and plugging the nose. It worked best if two adults administered it each time. Often they threw it up but we kept trying."

"Make sure she gets a chance to see you taking medicine and vitamins and use the opportunity to discuss the importance of taking medicine. I've also found it helpful to have the Doctor request my daughter take her medicine. She seems to think it's more important to do it if it comes straight from her doctor."

"Maybe start the next round of medicines off with a sticker chart, stickers of her own choosing, and a deal whereby she puts on a sticker every time she takes her medicine co-operatively. Be excited and encouraging. Maybe letting her take charge of choosing the dispenser and then holding it herself will help diffuse the power struggle. We've also rewarded medicine taking with a morsel of something yummy, like a chocolate chip. Praise her well for her progress."

"We had the same situation with our son, now 28 months old, and found a solution that works for us. We crush the chewable tablets between two spoons until finely ground to a powder. We mix the powder with about 1/2 of a strong tasting, carbonated beverage (orange pop - caffeine and sugar free, ginger ale - whatever the child likes.) Mix until the powder is as dissolved as possible. We give him his "pop" when we know he is very thirsty - after playing, a nap, or after eating salty foods. We find the chewable tablets less powerfully tasting than the liquids, and they are usually smaller in size, easier to disguise."

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