Treating cough and colds in children should be done with utmost care and patience. Since children don’t fully grasp what’s happening to their body, it is your job as a parent to get him to rest or take medicine when needed. Unfortunately, getting a sick child to do what you want, especially taking medicine, is a daunting task for most parents.
This can leave you and your child at odds when it’s time for him to take his medicine. Not only will this prevent you from treating your child’s cough and colds, but it can also leave him in an even worse condition due to stress.
Challenging as it may be, the fact remains that it is your job as a parent to find ways to help him take medicine without unnecessary stress. To get you started, here are six clever ways pediatrics experts and experienced parents have found effective in giving medicine to children without stressing them out:
1. Offer Options
Relinquishing control is one way you can motivate your child to take his medicine. When a child is sick, he tends to lose his sense of control which can also make him feel a lot more agitated than usual. To remedy this, you should offer options that will give him a sense of empowerment while still achieving your goal.
This means that, while you cannot give him the choice of whether or not to take his medicine, you should allow him to take part in deciding other matters like how and where he should take it. Ask him whether he’s more comfortable taking it from a cup or a syringe and if he prefers to take it in the kitchen or while watching TV on the couch.
In some cases, you can also offer him options on “when” to take the medicine if his doctor did not give you a specific time for it. If your child is old enough (and is feeling stable enough) to take his medicine on his own, you can also allow him to do so with adult supervision.
2. Look for Better Alternatives
One of the main reasons why children refuse to take their medicine is because of its taste and texture. Luckily, some cold and cough medicines come in chewable tablet and pastille forms while others can be mixed with food or drinks. If you’re unsure about the alternatives, ask your child’s pediatrician if there are such options for the medicine prescribed for your little one.
3. Avoid the Taste Buds
If your child’s medicine only comes in bitter-tasting syrup, you can still help him keep it down by avoiding his taste buds.
One way to do this is by using a syringe or dropper to squirt the medicine on the inside of your child’s cheeks to prevent it from touching his tongue. Make sure that the medicine gradually drips along the back of the mouth so he won’t taste it. Another trick is to put the dropper or syringe halfway to the back of the tongue and have your child suck on it.
4. Smile and Stay Positive
Believe it or not, your behavior while giving medicine to your child also serves as his motivation to do as you ask. Like any other task, staying positive throughout “medicine time” and talking about it in the same manner can help ease your child into voluntarily doing it. This is also helpful when you’re trying to calm him down.
5. Explain the Purpose of the Medicine
Children who are old enough to grasp the purpose of medicine should be taught about how it works and what it can do to the body. Translate the most basic information about coughs and colds into child-speak by explaining it in an age-appropriate manner. This means you have to avoid technical terms and use the simplest words as much as possible.
For example, if your child refuses to take medicine for his colds, ask him if he knows what it is for. After that, talk about how medicine can help him breathe easier. If his illness prevents him from going to school or playing with friends, explain to him that he would be able to go back to those things once he gets better after taking medicine.
6. Get Creative and Make Medicating Fun
Making medicine time more fun is also a great way to motivate children into taking their medication. After measuring the right dose, you can put the medicine in a container that your child loves to drink from (like a teacup or his favorite sippy cup). You can also have him pretend to be a doctor to make him feel much more comfortable with the task.
Alleviate Your Child’s Fears
A little bit of creativity mixed with plenty of patience can make medicating stress-free for both sick children and their parents. By patiently applying the above techniques, you will be helping assuage your child’s medicine-related anxieties.
Use the tips mentioned in this article and change them up according to your little one’s preferences to help your little one get better faster.