Every year the U.S. experiences cough and flu season, and with outbreaks beginning as early as October, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already predicted that this year’s flu season will last until May of 2016. There’s a good chance you’ll be impacted directly or indirectly by the flu this year as it is estimated that between 5% and 20% of U.S. residents get the flu each year.
If you have young kids, you probably have a home filled with coughing right now. When talking to friends and professionals about giving kids medicine, it’s interesting to me that so many adults have vivid memories about themselves taking medicine as a kid. With 2 young boys of my own (age 4 & 7), it’s interesting to hear everyone’s Medicine-time fail stories when it comes to administering bad tasting liquid to their sick kids, so I wanted to share these tips to help lessen the stress of medicine time at home.
In the testimonials that I’ve recently heard, some of the common themes associated with giving kids medicine have included wrestling, a game of hide & seek, squeezing your kid’s cheeks open, and even tears from parents and kids when things get really challenging. If you are looking for a better solution, I’ve compiled 5 tips to consider implementing into your kids’ medicine-time routine.
1. Be honest, but empathize with them
- There’s no sense in lying to them that medicine is going to taste pleasant. Once they have their first negative experience taking medicine, they will remain skeptical for years to come. Get down to their eye level and explain that it’s no fun to feel sick, but taking medicine will help them feel better so they can get back to school/playing with friends. Find what motivates them.
2. Give your kids control
- It’s sometimes tough to rationalize with a 3-4 year old why they must take something that tastes unpleasant in order to feel better. Instead of telling them what they need to do, ask them what flavor they’d like their medicine to taste. Even Rx’s like Amoxicillin (which may not have a bad reputation for taste) can be custom flavored to your child’s preferred taste profile like strawberry, orange cream or watermelon. Most pharmacies carry FLAVORx behind the counter and patient empowerment is important at this age.
- 3. Numb the tongue
- Remember those Icy-Pops that come by the hundreds for like $2.00? These can be your (and your child’s) best friend to minimize the sting of some really intense Rx’s like Tamiflu, Prednisolone, or the worst smelling Rx around; Clindamycin. What we’ve done is given our child about 1/3rd of the Icy-Pop before administering the dose, and immediately giving them the remaining 2/3rd icy pop immediately after they display their heroic efforts.
4. Use the right tools
- There are so many ways to administer medicine these days, from dosing spoons, dose cups, animal characters, and more. Our favorite and most reliable method has been the Oral Dosing Syringe. The measurements are easy to follow, but more importantly the liquid is contained in its chamber, and can be quickly shot into the back of the mouth to go down quickly and bypassing a lot of the taste receptors towards the front of the tongue.
5. Reward and Praise
- This is really important and there’s some psychology deep rooted in this tip. Younger kids are very driven by short term incentives and goals (this is why your 1st grader collects those gold stars like it’s the next bitcoin currency). We make a chart on the fridge (DOWNLOAD HERE) and depending on how bad the medicine is we may even offer a prize at the end of treatment. When our youngest was prescribed Cleocin (smelling like dirty diapers) we offered him the chance to get a new Lego mini-figure ($3 value) if he collected 30 stars over 10 days for each dose he took. This worked like a charm and he was so proud to fill in his chart.
Do you have any other tips, tricks, or comments that have worked for you? Please share them in the comments section. We hope everyone has a happy and healthy 2016!