Today’s Ask Dr.Mom’s post deals with the dreaded medicine struggle. What to do when faced with a crying child absolutely refusing to take her medication? I’m no Mary Poppins but I’ve got some tips to share.
My daughter needs to take antibiotics but she is giving me such a hard time. Is there anything I can do to make this process easier?
Helping the medicine go down easy can be a difficult task at times. What to do when you know your child needs to take antibiotics and her mouth is clamped down and she outright refuses to take it? Here are some tips for helping that medicine go down easier. Unfortunately, unlike the cute Mary Poppins jingle, it’s not always as easy as “just a spoonful of sugar”.
For infants and toddlers I like using the syringe dropper to administer the medicine. Squirt a little at a time into the pocket of the cheek, not directly on the tongue. Give your child a gentle blow on the face. This will trigger a swallowing response before your child has a chance to spit it out. I did feel odd at first blowing in my child’s face but I knew he needed the medicine and it worked with minimal crying.
Preschool and school age children are more amenable to a variety of tactics. You may have to try a few from the list below before you find what works for your child.
Try offering juice immediately following the medicine. I do not like to mix the medicine with the juice as it is possible the child may not finish that cup of juice. Have the cup ready, show your child that she will get some juice immediately following her dose of medicine. You can even break up the dose by giving half, then some juice, then the rest of the dose followed by juice again. Be gentle and talk your child through the process.
Your child could care less for juice? What does she like? For my son, it was chocolate milk. I had the medicine in one hand and the chocolate milk in another. With each sip of medicine, he got a sip of chocolate milk. It worked.
My daughter? She’s all about the jelly beans. So, once she took her medicine, I doled out a few jelly beans. So yes, I suppose a spoonful of sugar does help the medicine go down.
Make sure your child’s medication is flavored. When picking up your child’s medication from the pharmacist, ask if it can be flavored (if it isn’t already).
If your child is particularly resistant, offer a sticker reward chart. With each successful dose she takes, give her a sticker. At the end, why not reward her with a small gift? The dollar store is great for that!
Involve your child in the whole process. Let her pick out the cup she will use for her juice “chaser”. If possible, let her help you measure out her dose. Regaining some control will diminish some of the battle.
Be consistent: have a set time each day that your child will receive her medication. This way she knows when it is coming. Give her a five minute warning to allow her time to pep herself up.
Try not to engage in any physical struggles. Instead, talk with your child. Emphasize the importance of taking a particular medication. Explain how it will help her body get better. Include specifics, like “this medicine will help you get better so you can go over to your friend’s house to play”.
Is it the delivery method? If the liquid isn’t cutting it see if a particular medication comes in the form of a chewable or melt away. This may work for the older child. Additionally, some children will still do well with liquid but prefer the dropper syringe as opposed to the spoon. I prefer using the dropper syringe for as long as possible. This ensures dose accuracy and less chance of losing some of the medicine due to spills.
Be understanding but firm. Certainly empathy goes a long way but when your child needs to take a particular medication, it is non-negotiable. Help her realize the importance of this. Explain to her that she can not move on to her next desired activity until she has finished taking her medicine.
Good Luck and I hope some of these helped.
What about you? Have you struggled with getting your child to take his medicine? What were some ways you found to make it easier?
*Notice I added a tab at the top titled Ask Dr.Mom, this will take you to the page of all Ask Dr.Mom topics to date. Hopefully this will be a useful reference for you. Thank you Liz and Yuliya for this great suggestion.*
*Remember to keep the questions coming. I’m loving this weekly feature and love to hear what is on your mind*