10 Ways to Get Kids to Take Medicine

Taking medication can sometimes be a daunting experience for kids. While it may seem impossible, some solutions can help parents make this experience better.

When kids aren’t feeling well, they will sometimes make it difficult to take their medicine, even when they know the medicine will make them feel better. More often than not, liquid medicine doesn’t taste the best, and pills can be particularly difficult for kids to swallow. A study found that up to 50% of children have problems swallowing pills considered to be standard. Eventually, when kids are not feeling well, you will need to find a way to get them to take that medicine.

kids take medicine

Photo by MART PRODUCTION

Below are a few methods to try that will help your little ones take their much-needed medicine.

Have a positive mindset 

When kids need to take their medicine, it can be a daunting experience. In these instances, parents need to approach the situation with a positive mindset. It’s important to provide positive feedback, such as praising kids when they take their medication without a struggle. Never react poorly and avoid providing negative feedback such as threatening to punish them, these will only make the situation worse.

Listen to any concerns

When a child is having a hard time taking their medicine, it is often due to a number of concerns. If your child is old enough to communicate those concerns, consider talking to them about it. Listen to any concerns your child has and try your best to mitigate those concerns. When you identify the problem you can then work towards finding a solution. Oftentimes there are solutions to the concerns they have and it will make them feel heard in the situations.

Seek guidance from your doctor

A solution can be seeking guidance from your doctor. When children are being instructed by people that are not their parents, such as teachers, nurses, and doctors, they tend to respond slightly better. Consider asking your doctor to provide a teaching session for your child to begin taking their medicine. Having doctors explain to them why they need to take the medicine, how it will help them feel better, and best practices on how to take it might be a better method than having parents explain directly. The doctor or nurse can even give the child the first dose, helping both the parent and the child understand how to administer the medicine. 

Mix medicine with food

When administering medicine, you may be able to mix it with their favorite snack and essentially “trick” them into taking their medicine. Consider asking your pharmacist to provide your child’s medication in a way that can easily be blended with their favorite foods. Foods like applesauce, juices, and chocolate milk are easy foods and drinks for blending. When mixing medicine with foods the key is to work with your pharmacist to make sure you are not changing the medication’s effects with ingredients found in other foods.

Improve the flavor

Oftentimes medicine doesn’t taste the best, and that can turn your kids away from taking the medicine after realizing this. Before picking up your child’s medicine from the pharmacy, check to see if the pharmacy has options to be able to add flavoring to the medication. The pharmacist should have a wide variety of flavors to add, like cherry, grape, or watermelon. It would be best to let your child pick the flavor, that way they choose something they may be interested in. When the medicine tastes better, the child is more likely to take it. If your local pharmacy doesn’t offer flavoring, you might find an online pharmacy that does. Just be sure to consult with your child’s doctor before getting any medication from an online source.

Consider dividing up the dose

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, kids have a hard time swallowing pills that are considered standard-sized. In these situations, it’s important to be mindful of how much your child can swallow at once, especially to avoid choking. A solution can be dividing up the dose into smaller parts to make it easier for the child to swallow. It’ll be easier for a child to swallow smaller pieces multiple times, instead of swallowing a large piece at once. Additionally, medication should always be given when the child is in an upright or seated position to prevent choking.

Provide visual rewards

When providing a child with a reward, will improve your chances of having your child take their medicine. Children of all ages can be motivated by incentives that interest them. Consider designing a reward chart so they can visually see the rewards they will receive when successfully taking their medicine. You can work with your child to identify incentives that will motivate them the most and can work towards achieving those goals. You can also make a list of their favorite toys and when they’ve taken their medicine successfully after a certain amount of time they will receive that toy. The possibilities are endless when it comes to rewarding your child, but you must provide a reward that they will enjoy.

Seek alternatives to the medicine

There are usually multiple ways a child can take their medicine. Options may include liquid, capsule, or chewable forms. Consider talking to the doctor or pharmacist about the formulations available for a particular medication, hopefully, there are multiple options to choose from that will suit your child’s needs. If available, medications come in chewable tablets, capsules that can be opened and sprinkled over food and liquids, or pills that can be cut into small pieces and made easier to swallow. 

Explain the benefits

If a child is old enough, consider telling them the benefits of taking the medicine. If they’re not feeling well, tell them they will feel better after taking the medication. If a child clearly understands the benefits, they are more likely to take the medication. Remind them of the benefits throughout the whole process.

Lead by example

Parents are oftentimes role models to their kids. Additionally, kids tend to mimic their parents on multiple things, such as the way they act and speak, and taking medication is no different. If you lead by example and show your children how to swallow pills or drink the liquid, emphasizing that it isn’t hard to do will reassure them.

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