Helping Your Child Take Medication

Getting your child to take his or her medication can present several challenges. There are a number of effective techniques that parents can use to explain the importance of taking medication and demonstrate pill swallowing.

Often, children find a great sense of accomplishment in completing tasks independently, whether it’s eating, getting dressed or even riding a bike. Explaining the correlation between pill swallowing and learning a new skill they can do independently is a helpful way to get children to take their medication. 

Using a small piece of candy such as Wonka Nerds, Mini Chiclets or Mini M&Ms to demonstrate how to properly swallow a pill can help children understand where to place the pill on their tongues. A straw is also a helpful tool that can be used to guide water straight back down the throat. While demonstrating, it is important to sit up straight and keep your head level (tilting your head back can constrict the throat and make it difficult to swallow the pill). 

First, start off with a small piece of candy, such as Sprinkles or Wonka Nerds, so that your child feels comfortable practicing pill swallowing.  It is important that children complete a minimum of three successful efforts with one size of candy before moving on to the next size.  After three successful swallows, give the child a slightly larger piece of candy to swallow. For example, once a child is able to successfully swallow three Wonka Nerds move on to three Mini Chiclets, and then three Mini M&Ms and so on. Gradually increase the size of the candy until your child is able to swallow a candy that is similar in size and shape to the pill.  If a child is unsuccessful in swallowing a piece of candy, encourage him or her to keep drinking water or suggest taking a break.

Helping your child take medicationHere are a few tips you can use to help your child swallow pills:

  • Be consistent
  • Be positive and encouraging
  • Do not bribe, threaten or bargain
  • Use positive language and praise all of your child’s success and efforts

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