27 answers

How Do I Get Child to Take Medicine?

With the sudden changing weather my 3 year old son has caught a cold. He has been coughing. I have been giving him cough medicine but he fights me when I want to give it to him. I have explained to him that it will make him feel better but it doesn't help, I even try to brib him with candies or cookies. He just doesn't like the taste of the medicine.

Would appreciate any ideas. Thanks.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I tried the Triaminic strips and they worked. Now I don't have to hear any crying or have to chase him down to take his medicine.

Thanks to everyone for your responses.

Featured Answers

I know this is an old post - but don't forget that the new recommendations are that young children should not be given OTC cough/cold meds of any kind.

For cough, a humidifier and a spoonful of honey does the trick - for all ages over 1 yr old

Hi C.,

I give my son who is 4yrs old a shake with breakfast. It's full of vitamins, and if keeps him healthy. Even if he ends up getting sick, It does not effect him like the other kids. It comes in Chocolate or vanilla, so he thinks it's a treat, and I know he is getting a immune booster. :) Let me know if you want some info on it.


Dear C.:

I am in the same boat!
I use a) homeopathy (the dissolving white tablets are easy and fun to take) for coughs,
b) I use liquid Chinese herbal formulas for coughs which I can put in juice or I squirt with a dropper in his mouth (sometimes he resists, but I use methods such as negotiation, choices, or distraction).
Pear juice mixed with water is highly effective to combat dry cough and lungs. Pears are highly lubricating. Also a humidifier in the bedroom at night is extremely helpful.

C. N

More Answers

Have you considered any "homeopathic" remedies for his cough/cold? I know there are children's teas for those symptoms. My DD loves tea, and when she is sick, I give it to her with a little honey and lemon, and leave it as warm as she can take it (to help break up the congestion). She loves the flavor, asks for it by name, and it hydrates her at the same time.

If he absolutely has to have that particular syrup, see if they make it in a dissolving tablet form. I've seen those recently, but have never tried them. Try changing flavors too. I distinctly remember HATING that icky pink bubble gum flavored stuff as a kid.

Another idea would be to watch Mary Poppins and make a big deal out of the "spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down" scene. You could sing the song, and act out the scene, and have him name the flavor his medicine will be. Then he will have that idea in his head while he takes it. Kids have great imaginations.

Hi C., have you tried giving a couple teaspoons of ice cream, pudding, or apple sauce after the medicine?

has the cough medicine been working? most of them don't. try getting a really fragrant onion and putting it in a shallow dish with enough water to cover the bottom of the dish. put this by his bed at night and sleep well. i know it sounds ridiculous, but we were at our wit's end and my cousin said she does it all the time. it worked. now when we hear the cough coming on we buy a couple of onions and set up a humidifier in our son's room. works like a charm.

I am not sure about getting him to take medicine, but you could put the sudafed plugin in his room near his head when he sleeps. Put vicks vapor rub behind his ear and just a dab under his nose. That way it is not on his chest with these cold mornings and he won't be so easy to catch phomonia.

I would sometimes try to mix my kids medicine with juice that had the same flavor so it was a little hard to tell. You may want to try that but don't let him see you do it.

Hope it helps. T.

Is it prescription syrup? The Pharmacies can usually add a flavoring to it to make it taste better. Maybe a different flavor would work?

I know this advice will not set well with many, but this is what I know, so here goes!

Your son is three years old now. It is important that you teach him now that you love him, and that you make all decisions based on what you know to be best for him. That he is to do as you ask, because it is what is best. He needs to learn that sometimes you may ask him to do something that he doesn't want to do, but for his own good, he needs to do it anyway. He will need this skill of submission throughout his life. If he doesn't learn it at an early age, you will have a very tough row to hoe. Imagine him, 12 years from now. Do you want him to listen to you because you know what is best and you want him to trust you, respect you, and obey? Or do you want to have to convince him as to why you feel the way you do, and hope and pray that he agrees and listens to your advice? He will also need submission skills in the work force. You won't want a son that can't hold a job, that quits because the boss wanted him to do something that he didn't want to do. I know it may sound silly, projecting that far in the future, but he is learning skills and attitudes now that will affect the rest of his life, and it all starts somewhere!

I would suggest that you purchase medicine that doesn't taste bad. Make sure hold him on your lap (you don’t want to be chasing him around the house with a bottle and a spoon!) Tell him that it is time to take his medicine, and that it will help him get better. If he says he doesn’t like medicine, tell him you know, but that you love medicine because you love him, and it will make him better. If he refuses to take it, give him a little flick on the mouth with your index finger. CALMLY repeat the instruction that it is time to take his medicine, keep doing this until he obeys. Remain calm, do not under any circumstances, raise your voice. It may take awhile, if submitting is a new skill for him, but he will come to understand that an undesirable behavior reaps undesirable rewards. When he is finished taking his medicine, tell him he is a good boy and give him a love!

My daughter as chronic allergies so she coughs alot, she also hates the medicaten. Johnson Vapor rubb breaks the congestion and isnt as harsh as vicks(Which I am highly allergic too). I believe it is trimanic who makes these wonderful cough patches! If your child has sentive skin, just put it on the out side of his jammy top of the pillow he sleeps on. That is what we did for my dughter!

cough medicine sucker :) there great !! i get mine at walgreens

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