kdiehl“No!!!” screams your child and another dose of medication winds up on the floor.  Frustrated, you give up…..for now.

When my children were little, taking medication was non-negotiable.  Yes, I had a strong willed child as well (you are talking to a mom who sat on the shoulder of I-170 for 90 minutes while my toddler repeatedly unbuckled her seat belt – this was also non-negotiable in our house!)

  1. Empathize with your child - “I know you don’t like taking medicine but you need to take it.”
  2. Approach with a calm firm voice - You are the parent and this is something that must be accomplished.  This is not a time to be your child’s “friend."
  3. Use the appropriate tool - Household flatware is not an appropriate dispensation tool.  Medication syringes, cups and spoons are needed.
  4. Flavoring can be helpful - Ask your pharmacist to flavor the medication.  At some pharmacies this is free or the cost is nominal.
  5. “A teaspoon of sugar” – The Mary Poppins tool.  Mix the medication with pudding, applesauce, chocolate syrup, ice cream, Jell-O or Pixie Sticks.  Just make sure the child takes the entire amount.
  6. The illusion of choice – Give your child a choice: “you can take the medication with a syringe or with a spoon.  Which would you like to use?”
  7. Cold helps – Either numb the tongue with a Popsicle or ice cube prior to giving the medication or give the medication cold.  This tricks the taste buds.
  8. Bypass the taste buds – Your taste buds are located front and center in the tongue; slowly drip the medication in a syringe into the sides of the child’s mouth, with your child lying at a 45 degree angle so he/she doesn’t choke or spit out the medication.

When the mission is accomplished, praise your child.  Offer much positive reinforcement for a job well done.  Using a star chart or behavior modification chart in older children is helpful.

As a last and final resort for teeth clinchers, if all the above measures fail, pinch the child’s nose closed to open the mouth.  Keep the child at a 45 degree angle and then insert the medication slowly on the sides of the mouth.  Obviously, this is a two person operation since the child needs to be restrained.  Remember this is non-negotiable and you are the parent.  You know what is best for your child!

Encourage your child as soon as developmentally possible to swallow pills.  Many children as young as 4 can be taught to swallow pills.  Use Tic Tacks, Skittles, and ice chips to mimic pills.  By age 6-8, all children can swallow small pills.