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7 Tips to Get Your Ill Child to Take Medicine

Published in Pediatrics, For the Health of It Author: Shauna Mullings,MBBS

We’re heading into cold and flu season which can be particularly stressful for parents of young children. It’s normal for kids to become ill more frequently as their immune system is still developing. Getting your child to take medicine can prove challenging in some cases. Here are seven tips that parents can try to help encourage their child.

  • First, it’s important for a parent or caregiver to remain calm. If you are stressed out, chances are your child will pick up on that and become even more reluctant to accept the medication. Try making the process no big deal.
  • It helps to explain to your child in a positive, age-appropriate way why medicine is necessary and important for his/her recovery. Be honest and let your child know that he/she will feel better after taking the medicine. Avoid using any scare tactics or making threats.
  • Have an open line of communication. If your child is able to verbalize why he/she won’t take the medicine, it’s best to hear your child out and address any concerns.
  • Role-playing can work in certain cases, too. Try having your child be the parent or doctor who needs to give medicine to an “ill” stuffed animal or doll.
  • If your child has an issue with how the medicine tastes, try mixing it with sugar or something sweet like Pedialyte, a favorite sports drink or juice. Sometimes chilling liquid medicine can make it easier to accept. If your child is at the age where he/she can take pills, try crushing it up in pudding, gelatin, apple sauce or another favorite food.
  • For older children, it helps to provide incentives. For example, offer up some extra TV or tablet time as a reward.
  • Try letting your child feel some sense of control throughout the process. If it’s possible, let your child pick the medicine flavor. You also can let your child choose the preferred delivery method.

The important thing is to remain calm. When all else fails, contact your child’s pediatrician or family medicine provider with your concerns. They may be able to help with alternative solutions.