If you have children you no doubt are familiar with the battle that ensues
every time they get sick and have to take medicine of one type or another.
Convincing a child to take medicine can sometimes be a difficult task.
Children often don’t want to take medicine. This might be because they find
it unpleasant or scary.
So here are some tips on making the process easier for both you and your
Talking it through with your child
Talk to your child and find out what is wrong; why do they not want to take
the medicine? It is important that you acknowledge their fears(that it
tastes horrible) as this helps you to talk with them about how you can make
It is important that your child understands why they have to take the
medicine and what could happen if they don’t take it. However, don’t try to
scare your child into talking medicine!
Reassure your child that they are not having to take the medicine because
they have been naughty.
Be calm but firm an give your child honest explanations. Talk about it in a
way that doesn’t make your child feel like they are failing or letting yo
Common reasons children won’t take medicine
Not understanding why they need to take it.
Not liking the taste or texture
Having difficulty swalloing tablets or capsules
Sometimes a child needs to be administered some medicine, but often kids
are unwilling to take it. The following is a list of tips for getting kids to take medicine easily
1. Don’t tell them it is candy. If you do, you run the risk of your
child overdosing on the medication, or wanting it when they are not
feeling ill. Lying to your child is not a good idea, so make sure
that you give them medication under no false pretenses. It is best
to let them know that they are sick, and that it will help them to
2. Make it easy to get in. One of the problems with medication is that
it can be difficult for the child to take; a child is not easily
able to swallow a pill. So, choosing chewable tablets, or liquid
medication can really help. For infants younger than six months, a
syringe or calibrated eyedropper does well. For older, choose a
method that will work for them.
3. Choose medicine that appeals to them. If your child does not like
cherry flavoring, don’t try and give them cherry medication. Most
medicines come in a variety of flavors, from bubblegum to grape,
4. Give your child some control and choices. Most children do not like
to be forced to do anything, especially not when it is something
like taking medicine. If you give them a bit of a choice, there is
a much better chance that they will take their medication. For
example, you can say, “When do you want to take it? Now? Or, after
lunch?” You can say things like, “Which color of medicine would you
like?” This will give them a small choice to make, and help them
feel more in control, and thus more willing to comply with what you
5. Show them how to take medicine by example. Often a child fears
taking medicine because it is unknown to them, so a better option
is to let them see you taking medicine. You can simply take a
multi-vitamin, or calcium chew; it does not have to be actual
prescription or medicine, it just has to be something that your
child can see you take so that they feel comfortable taking their
medication as well.
Praise and Rewards
Always give lots of praise and reward when medicine is taken, even if the
process has been long or difficult.
Stickers and reward charts work very well. Promise a small or simple reward
to your child.
Try do do a positive, fun activity after your child takes the medicine.
This gives your child motivation to take it again.
There may be days when none of these strategies work. Take a break and try
again later- don’t give up! If the problem persists, speak to your child’s
doctor or pharmacist, they may be able to give your child another type of
medication with a different taste, texture or as liquid instead of tablets.
When giving a child medicine it is important to make sure that they eat it,
but to also follow the dosing and instructions. Make sure they take it with
food if they need to. Make sure you do not open pills and mix it with food
unless it says you can. Never try and trick your child into taking
medication or they will think that it is something they don’t want to do
and that is why you have to trick them. Help them understand it, and make
it as tasty and appealing as possible.
Pills or Capsules, Which is Easiest for a Child to Swallow?
If your child’s medicine is available in pill form, and the pill is smaller
than an M&M or “Tic-Tac”, then that’s likely going to be a bit easier
to get them to take than a capsule. The reason for this is that you can
practice with actual M&M’s and Tic-Tacs beforehand in order to prepare
them for the unusual sensation of swallowing a pill whole.
Capsules should be your second option, since most all medications are
available in capsule form. It certainly helps that the capsule is slick
coated, but the size, compared to a Tic-Tac sized pill is still likely
going to be a stumbling block for your young child. In the event your
medicine is only available in capsule form, then you will want to practice
beforehand to make sure your child can take the capsule.
An interesting twist that could save the day
One interesting twist on whether to choose pills or capsules: Capsules
float, pills do not. You can actually use this to your advantage when it
comes to pills or capsules. If taking capsules, for example, have your
child lean their head forward, and drink a mouthful of water through a
straw until their cheeks are puffed full, you can slip the capsule into the
side of their mouth and it will float up to the back of their throat. Then
it will be much easier for them to swallow! You can also do this by placing
the pill on the middle part of the tongue, then bending your head down
while drinking water from a water bottle. This method is so effective, its
difficult to even tell the pill has been swallowed!
With pills, it’s the exact opposite, lean their head back and have them
drink a mouthful of water, then slip the pill into the side of their mouth.
It should sink through the water to the back of their throat. Of the two
methods, prefer the capsule method on the middle of the tongue as its
proven most effective, while pills might not require any tricks if you are
able to successfully do the Tic Tac training.