Getting children to take their medicine, especially horrible-tasting syrups and tablets, can be very stressful and traumatic for everyone, especially the poor child concerned.
But since medicine is a necessary evil, there are a few things you can do that might help medicine time feel like a less scarring experience for everyone.
1. Explain why taking the medicine is important
If your child is old enough to understand, help him understand why he needs to take the medicine and that taking it would mean he could go back to school and playing with his friends as usual.
Sometimes children don’t make that connection, especially when they don’t like the taste of the medicine, so help them realise that.
2. Choose a less stressful form of medication
Choose your battles wisely. Some medications are available in different forms, so if you do have a choice, take the less stressful option when possible.
For instance, if it’s possible to take a capsule that can be opened and sprinkled over food, that might be a far easier option than having to ask your child to actively swallow a bitter pill or teaspoon of ‘yucky’ medicine.
3. Empower your child
Children tend to be more agreeable when they feel involved and feel like that have had a say in what is going on. Where possible, let your child choose their preference when it comes to something like the flavour or a time option.
The more they feel they have some control over the situation, the less they will resist the situation hopefully.
4. Get creative
As with anything kid-related, get creative and make it fun. Check with your paediatrician to confirm if it’s possible to mix the medicine with a drink or ‘hide’ it in food. It’s a win-win situation, especially when you’re dealing with very young children.
Disguise the taste of medicine by mixing it in some ice cream, chocolate sauce or yogurt. Or mix the medicine in some fresh fruit or veggie – your child gets the medicine, along with a bonus addition of some liquid and possibly fibre.
5. Bribery works
For school-going children who understand the value of a reward, whip out the reward chart. Promise your child a reward in return for taking the medicine.
Keep the progress visual so that your child is motivated to take their medicine and to earn that reward.
For instance, decide how many stickers it takes to earn the prize of their choice and then let your child stick a daily sticker for every time they have their medicine peacefully.
6. Always keep calm
Children pick up on your body language and energy very fast. So if you’re anxious when it comes to medicine time, they’ll perceive it to be negative too and resist taking the medicine.
Stay calm and cheerful, and hopefully your child will follow suit, rather than it becoming a power struggle.
This article was first published in Wonderwall.sg.