Chuck Out the Sugar and Try These Tips to Help the Medicine Go Down

Every parent absolutely hates it when their kids get sick. Aside from worrying about the well-being and health of their child, parents also have to rough it out all throughout the sick days. From dealing with a cranky toddler who wants to be carried all day (and night) long to mopping up throw ups (and messes from the other end) how many times a day. Another stressful and challenging task for kid’s sick days is getting them to take their much-needed medicine.

Obviously, kids need to take their prescribed medicines to help them get well, but getting them to drink a sour or weird-tasting liquid when they don’t feel well and cranky can turn out to be a struggle at best.

Aside from what the nursery rhyme-prescribed spoonful of sugar, what can parents do to get their kids drink their medicine? Here are a few tips:

Be positive about it.

Instead of putting your mean, serious parent-face on once it’s time to give them their medicine, put on your understanding and happy parent-face. Kids tend to get their cue from their parents. So if you approach them with the medicine already stressed and frustrated, they can sense this and resist all the more. Try to adopt a more positive attitude — older kids will often respond well to encouragement and reason, while younger kids will get your cue and will not stress about it much.

Let your kids have some control.

If your kids are old enough to understand, try to explain to them why they need to drink their medicine. Explain what it does and how it can help them. You can even enlist the help of your Pediatrician to do this. Another way to make them understand the need for checkup medicines is by letting them watch kiddie shows such as Doc McStuffins. You can also let them play “doctor” to their toys — performing check-ups and giving medicine to their stuffed animals and dolls. At the same time, give them a bit of control by letting them choose the medicine flavor if it is available.

Help them swallow it ASAP.

Kids are likely to spit out bitter-tasting medicines, and the best way to avoid such instances is by making it easy for them to swallow quickly so that the medicine bypasses their taste buds and hence minimize the taste. You can do so by using droppers or syringes — even if your kids are big enough to drink from a cup. Another tip is to squeeze the medicine along the insides of your child’s cheeks and not on his tongue). If the medicine is not that bitter, you can also let your child suck on the dropper or syringe by resting it on his tongue (this works well for younger kids who still find sucking soothing).

Enlist your Doctor’s help.

Aside from asking your Pediatrician to explain the medicines to your child, you can also seek his help in choosing the medicines to prescribe. He might be able to prescribe medicines that taste better or ones that are more concentrated — and need to be taken less often.

Give a reward.

Not necessarily a toy every time he drinks his medicine, but if you use a rewards system for your child, then you can incorporate the task of taking their medicines into it. Include it in their rewards chart and reward him a sticker every time he takes his medicine without fuss. Doing so will make him feel rewarded and will let him follow his own progress.

Last resort options.

When all else fails, you can try these final options:

  • Enlist the help of your partner or another caregiver in restraining your child. You can do so by getting one adult to hug the child or wrapping him up in a blanket while another drops the medicine in his mouth (again on the insides of his cheek).
  • Enlist the help of another adult (not you or your partner) to offer and give him his medicine. Kids might be more likely to take medicine from another adult aside from his parents.

Getting your kids to drink their medicine can be a frustrating experience for everyone involved but always remember that they will grow out of it as they grow older. Don’t stress about it too much and always always try to explain and let them understand the importance of taking their medicines. Because you might be surprised when one day they’ll drink it on their own with no fuss at all.

*Originally published in

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