10 Fun & Disturbing Ways to Get Kids to Take Their Medicine

After a week of strep and stomach bugs in my house and three different antibiotics that I had to coax my daughters into taking -- long story -- I got to thinking about the ingenious methods moms use to get their kids to open up. Somehow, without promises of anything, my mom managed to impart the seriousness of the situation at hand with nothing but a look. A slightly scary look, but still. I remember simply resigning myself to spoonfuls of that sticky pink bubble gum stuff when necessary. I wish I could say that "a look" worked on my kids, but truthfully there's a lot more bribing, bargaining, strategizing, accommodating, and promising going on. And from an incredibly informal poll of other parents, it seems I'm not alone. Here are 10 of the most often employed (but not often admitted to) medicine-taking methods that are well beyond a spoonful of sugar.

1. Shameless bribery. TV shows. iPad time. Horseback riding lessons. You name it.

2. Emotional trickery. This one is impressive: Some moms manage to convince their kids that medicine itself is a treat! Usually helps if it's flavored, but true masters don't need such a crutch.

3. Candy before, during, and after. Yup, even if it's first thing in the morning. Fruit pops, gum, M&Ms, which even our pediatrician suggested. Chocolate's strong taste apparently blocks out any bitterness. Just go with it.

4. A sense of agency. Put the medicine in one of those plastic syringes instead of a spoon and let the kid squirt it into their mouth themselves. Talk up the feeling of empowerment. A lot.

5. Regression enabling. Allowing a few minutes of thumb-sucking or whatever behavior you are trying desperately to dissuade the rest of the time. One genius mom admitted she even covers her thumbsucker's thumb with honey to get the job done.

6. Excessive flattery. It works on us so why not? Tell them they're such a "big" boy/girl and that you "know they can do this." Throw in comparisons to a scaredy-cat younger sibling but note that that can backfire if the scaredy-cat hears the conversation and needs to take his/her meds a few days later.

7. Reverse psychology. If they're afraid of throwing up, make it clear that they will 100 percent throw up if they DON'T take the medicine.

8. Blatant threats. Something like, "You know that kid on the playground that licks the slide? You're going to end up like him if you don't take this."

9. Pry their mouths open and hold them down. No one's proud of admitting this one, but occasionally it does happen.

10. Money. Modest additions to the piggy bank, but also $20 bills. Sometimes after each milliliter.

What tactics do you use to get your kids to take their medicine?


Image via rockindave1/Flickr

kid health

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LuvMy... LuvMyDandD

Simply add it to their juice. No fuss.

RN_713 RN_713

I used to dip ice pops into the meds. When DD was a little older, I also told her that she was sick with "a rainbow of germs" and each time she took her meds, she could pick which color germ she'd "pow" with that dose.

LuvMy... LuvMyDandD

RN that's awesome! Very creative, i wish I had thought of that one with mine.

kelly... kelly24019

My son is four and takes tons of meds for different reasons and gere are some ideas we gave used.



one thing he loved was choosing the color and us creating it with food dye.





Also some meds have a strong peppermint flavor that moxes great with chocolate milk. Also there is his special chaser... In a special cup and a really sweet juice (normally he drinks super watered down v8 fusion) -I was also told by his GI when he got one Ned that tasted so bad his special juice didnt stop him from gagging that white grape juice was the best at covering up medicine flavors-



With some very nasty tasting meds we will tell him they will give him brief super powers such as strength and let him arm wrestle daddy or feel his "muscles"

kelly... kelly24019

I hate typing on the iPod by the way lol

problip problip

i have no problem giving my kid medicine, i actually had to start getting the nasty kind because he wanted to always take it even if he had to clear his throat he would think was a cough coming on but even with the grosser kinds he doesn't fuss but he doesn't bug me about needing medicine as much

betti... bettieRAGE138

NEVER,EVER TELL YOUR CHILD MEDICINE IS A TREAT,CANDY,ETC.IF A CHILD IS TOLD THIS,THEY VERY WELL  THINK IT'S OK TO TAKE WHENEVER AND HOWEVER MUCH THEY WANT AND AS A RESULT END UP VERY SICK OR DEAD!!! WHO EVER SUGGESTED /WROTETHIS AS WELL AS WHOEVER ALLOWED THIS TO BE POSTED SHOULD AT THE LEAST USE A LITTLE COMMON SENSE,BUT REALLY SHOULD BE FIRED...

SLA28 SLA28

Wow.  Maybe I'm a hardass, but I wasn't aware that medicine taking was in any way shape or form negotiable.    When I say take it, you take it.  No arguments.  No bribery.  Period. 


 I don't particularly feel the need to make my son feel "good" about taking it.  You're sick.  Medicine makes you not sick.    And now that I'm thinking about it, I don't actually care if he feels good about taking it or not - it needs to happen and that's that.  I will get them flavored if the pharmacist tells me it's a bad-tasting medicine, but that's as far as I'll go.

Angel... Angelanscalf89

I never have a problem my kids know that if they take medicine they get better if they dont they stay sick. And who wants to be sick right?

gabe05 gabe05

My first two kids were great about medicine.  My youngest would gag at the taste and throw up immediately.  At my doctor's suggestion when he was two with the third ear infection in a row, I mixed the medicine with coca-cola and gave him the coke/medicine with a dropper as a special treat.  I don't negotiate with my children, but you have to do what you have to do with little ones if they spit it back out or throw up.  I'm glad that phase only lasted one summer!

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