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Getting Kids to Take Medicine

Mom: Do you want apple juice or orange juice after your medicine? | Girl: Apple.

Offer a Choice About How to Take Medicine

"While the taking of the medicine is non-negotiable, offering simple choices gives the child a needed sense of control. You might ask, 'Do you want the medicine before you get dressed or after?'"

Mary Mathews, L.C.SW

Director of Family Programs, Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago

What Kids Experience

One of the most common health struggles between parents and kids is about taking medicine. From the infant who simply spits out the liquid to the teenager who argues, children can put up a good fight about what's good for them.

Why do kids resist? Perhaps because the medicine tastes pretty bad, even with flavorings added. And also because to a sick child, everything feels like an intrusion and a demand.

"A sick child is already in a regressed and emotional state. This may bring up resistance to whatever you suggest," says Susanna Neumann, Ph.D., a psychologist consultant at Rockefeller University in New York City.

To avoid a battle, acknowledge your child's feelings. You might say "You may not want to do this now, but after you take it, you will feel better sooner." Then, offer choices to make the medicine more palatable and fun.

Easier said than done? These expert- and parent-tested tips may help!

Medicine-Giving Strategies

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