Medicine and Kids: The Do's and Don'ts

by Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman
Chick Moorman and Thomas HallerMaybe you child needs to take a common aspirin. Or perhaps he has been diagnosed with depression/anxiety and has been put on Zoloft by your doctor. She could be eight years old or sixteen. Regardless of age or type of medicine prescribed, what do you do if your child refuses to take his medicine?  How do you get a strong-willed child who seems determined to not take her medicine to take it? Can you force somebody to swallow? Consider the following do’s and don’ts.

Do not attempt to force someone to swallow medicine.  If you take that approach, the problem will only get worse; and it will continue to get worse as your child grows older. Demanding obedience and exerting adult power in this situation will not work.
Do ask your doctor to prescribe a chewable or liquid version of the medicine. Doctors don’t always think of this, and you may have to ask and push the doctor to find a medicine easier for the child to take.
Do remember that the dislike of swallowing is more in the mind than anything else. This child has swallowed bigger gulps of drink and food without realizing it. (However, simply telling him this won’t work.)
Do nurture and be gentle in your approach to help the child understand the importance of the medicine. Emphasize health and safety. Gentleness on the part of the parent is key to making this be a more positive experience for all concerned.
Do work together to find a solution, and come up with creative ways to help your child take the medicine. This could be crushing the pills and adding them to applesauce or yogurt, swallowing them with a glass of a favorite juice or drink, sticking the pill in the back of the throat (as far as possible) and drinking lots of water, or swishing the pill around in a mouth full of drink and then swallowing it all at once. There is no one best way, just her way. Work cooperatively to help your child find her own best way.
Do not sneak medicine into your child’s food or drink. Hiding a pill in peanut butter may work with your dog. Nix that idea for your child. Stay open about why she needs the medicine and the creative ways you will help her learn to take it.
Do not attach consequences to the taking of medicine. You do not get ice cream if you take medicine, or lose TV if you don’t. This is about health and safety, not bribery.
Do focus on health and safety. We do lots of things to stay healthy. We limit sugar drinks and junk food. We limit television and video games. We get shots, go to the dentist, and exercise. We read books, brush our teeth, and get sufficient sleep. Taking medicine becomes one of the many things we do that we sometimes don’t like to do. Help your child understand by telling him, “We are going to do this healthy thing and we will find ways to make it as easy as possible.”
Do tell your children, “I know that you don’t like this medicine, and the doctor says you need to take it for now. You don’t have to take it forever, only until we can get you healthy again.”
Yes, it’s tough on parents and children when kids don’t want to take medicine. Hopefully, these ideas will help you keep moving forward with gentleness and love as you help your child through this difficult time.
About the Authors
Teaching the Attraction Principle to ChildrenChick Moorman and Thomas Haller are the authors of Teaching the Attraction Principle™ to Children: Practical Strategies for Parents and Teachers to Help Children Manifest a Better World.  They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, conscious children. They publish a free Uncommon Parenting blog. To obtain more information about how they can help you or your group meet your parenting needs, visit their website today:

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