Tricky, Tricky!

Moms (and dads) are a lot of things. We are caretakers, disciplinarians, chauffeurs, cooks, tutors, playmates/friends, negotiators. We are loving, we are kind (hopefully), we are responsible and tricky.

Wait, what?

Yes, I said it. Sometimes we are tricky, tricky, tricky. We have to be! Kids can be crafty, so sometimes, we have to beat them at their own game.

Lets talk about medicine. It doesn’t matter if you have a toddler or a teenager, getting kids to take their meds can be tricky. Younger kids either don’t like the taste, can’t actually get the meds down, or find the administration of injections or eye drops too uncomfortable to comply. Older kids may have many of the same complaints, but teens especially can start to resent the constant barrage of medications, and just want to be normal. Many teenagers will pretend to comply (if you don’t believe me, read this very scary story,) but have crafty ways of getting around taking medications, simply due to the fact that they are just tired of it, period.

Don’t despair. I have quite a few tricks up my sleeve, and along with tips from other parents who have “been there, done that,” you too can perform these wonders on your own children.


I’m no Mary Poppins, but I do have a few tricks to “make the medicine go down”

Since we give tons of home injections (over 90 a month in our camp) I have developed quite a few techniques and tricks to make giving shots easier. So many, that I have a complete post devoted to just to  Magic Tricks for Needle Sticks. If that is something you need help with, pop on over through the hyperlink and read the full story there. One of our favorite tricks is the use of a Buzzy which really seems to dull the pain for my kids. I did have a giveaway, but if you were not the lucky winner or missed the contest entirely, the folks at MMJ labs generously agreed to give all my readers a 20% discount on any Buzzy or kit priced $39.95 or more. Simply visit and enter the code LWA20 through the month of February. (also FYI, I did not receive any compensation for this post, it is just a product we believe in!)

If you are lucky enough to avoid the needles, but have issues with oral meds, I can help you too. If your child just has difficulty swallowing pills, you have a couple of options.

If your doctor and pharmacist say that you can safely crush the pill and administer with food (always check! Some of them you aren’t allowed to!) you can utilize an inexpensive pill crusher and mix the powder into a spoonful of pudding, applesauce or yogurt.  Be careful not to waste any of the powder so that your child will receive the full dose that was intended, and if possible, try to limit the mixture to a single spoonful, as to limit waste of medication that could be left behind in the container. Use the rest of the serving without the medication as a “chaser” in case any bitter taste remains. Always make sure that whatever medium you use is compatible with the drug you are giving. Some may be counter-indicated with dairy or citrus, so make sure you run the method by your doctor first.

My good friend Herchel at Scruggbug Corner has a brilliant trick to get fussy toddlers (or bigger kids) to take even the worst tasting meds without a fuss. She has figured out a simple solution to tricking the taste buds, rendering even the most bitter meds nearly tasteless. We’ve tried it, and it works, but you’ll have to learn how directly from her “When a Spoonful of Sugar Does NOT Help the Medicine Go Down.” Go read it. You will be SO happy that you did.

The next trick I have for you is to help you teach your child how to swallow pills. One of our exceptional pediatricians gave me this gem, after dealing with a horrible gag reflex with one of my kids. Sometimes its a bit of a mind over matter thing. We “trained” my younger son to swallow small pills with the help of some frozen peas. It’s important to start with the really tiny ones, sometimes known as “petite pois” like these. Because they are frozen, they are hard like a real pill. If they crunch them up for a while, no harm no foul, it’s just peas. After they become proficient, you can move up to the regular size peas, and then eventually on to real pills. If they can’t stand peas, you can use tiny candies like smarties or m&ms, but most kids want to really eat them, not just swallow them whole!

If your JA kiddo has had eye involvement,  then you may have found yourself struggling with the administration of eye drops. One of the best tips I ever received from a uveitis mom was to let the child keep their eyes closed, and apply the drops at the inner corner of the eye, then blink. This really helps take care of the startle reflex when your child sees something coming toward their eye, and saves a lot of missed drops!

In the case of the non-compliant kids, the just for the heck of it ones, I’ve found that giving them some control over what choices they can make seems to help. The older the child is, the more you can emphasize how important taking their medications as prescribed is, the better chance you have of making them understand why it is worth it. Sometimes it will just take sheer grit and a parent’s eagle eye to make sure its done though.

Did I miss anything?  Do you have any amazing tips to share that I don’t know about?  Feel free to leave them in the comments. I love it when we can help each other!




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  1. Great tips – thanks for sharing! My kids thankfully don’t have to take meds often, but it’s usually a fight when they do.
    Julie recently posted…The Apple Tree & The Honey Bee by Bari Koral Family Rock Band CD {Review + Giveaway}My Profile

  2. I understand as a parent sometimes you have to be tricky with your kids.
    Julie recently posted…French Bread PizzaMy Profile

  3. I’m lucky because my little guy loves medicine. Actually there are times I wish he didn’t like it so much. 😉 Now giving medicine to one of my cats is a whole different story! LOL
    I feel so bad for kids that have to get poked all the time, and I’m in awe of the parents that have to do it. Of course it’s amazing what we become capable of when we need to do it for our kids. Still I have to admit that I NEVER want to have to use my son’s Epi Pens (of course there are many reasons to not want to use those!).
    Thanks for linking up at Rock-A-Bye Parents Sunday Parenting Pointers linky party again! You’ve got so many useful posts to share! I hope to see you linking up again. 🙂
    Elizabeth (Rock-A-Bye Parents) recently posted…Giveaway Link-Up: February 15, 2014My Profile

  4. My little guy takes a pill daily, and getting through the first couple mornings were rough. We did the sprinkle – half an M&M – TicTac method. He’d get all those down ok but then gag on the pill (which was smaller than the TicTac!). Now he’s good to go, but I didn’t think we’d ever get there. Haha!!
    Jess recently posted…What Can a Disney Travel Agent Do for You?My Profile

  5. Absolutely fantastic information, Kim! Wish this had been around when I was a kid. I remember having to take this liquid, pink thing — antibiotics? — That look like Pepto-Bismol and tasted like artificial cherry and chase it with Coke. To this day, the smell of cherry flavor makes me gag and it took a couple of decades before I drank Coke again.
    Lene recently posted…Live Bold Live Now Launch!My Profile

    • Lene, I had the same experience with orange flavored medication too. To this day I cannot stand anything that has an artificial cherry or orange flavor. GAG.

  6. I’m so grateful that we don’t have this problem anymore. I wonder if there will ever be a good way to trick your 20 year old to eat vegetables! I’ve seen that both CVS and Walgreens have the ability to flavor liquid medications for kids.
    Sandy Sandmeyer recently posted…Prilosec OTC®My Profile

    • Yes Sandy, you are right, some of the drugstores will allow you to choose the flavor for your medication, and even if your insurance wont cover the flavoring, it is very reasonable. No tips here for your 20 year old though. 🙂

  7. For dilation there is a spray that allows the kids (small and big) to keep their eyes closed and the doc sprays it on their kids/lashes and then they have to blink a few times afterwards and the sprays runs into the eyes that way. It saves the parent from having to wrangle a 11 year old:) I have started making twice a day fruit smoothies to get the medicines to go down. Way less stressful and less time intensive plus as an added bonus she is getting extra fruits and veggies in them that she usually wouldn’t eat:)

    • Kate, we do smoothies too as a chaser! Our docs warned us about diluting the meds in any more than a spoonful or so though, because they may not get the full dose (with powder or residue left behind in the glass, etc) My kids love them, and I do think its a great way to hide some veggies and get some extra servings of fruits in too. I haven’t heard of the dilation spray, but we are due on our next uveitis check for dilation, and I will definitely ask. That sounds a whole lot easier. Thanks for sharing the tip.

  8. She’s mostly grown out of it, but my daughter used to be so tricky about meds. When she first took Methotrexate, she had the pills. Since she could not swallow even those teeny tiny pills, I would crush them and mix them with applesauce on a spoon. We caught her sticking the mixture under her chair!

    • I had a few under the chair episodes too- I noticed the dog was taking a real interest in the area under my younger son’s seat. The doc had told us to start giving him fish oil capsules and he HATED them. He would hold them in his mouth long enough to make them gummy, then stick them up under his chair. The dog was his Buddy, getting rid of the evidence. I had to start watching a lot closer! Those kids can be really tricky, right?

  9. Awesome tips, Kim! (Not just mine lol) We have the eye visit coming up and Pea hates the dilation drops. I am going to let her pick out fancy sunglasses just for after the dilation. She reminds me that she hates the drops when I bring up the appointment! I am going to order the Buzzy. Woohoo for coupon codes 🙂
    Herchel S recently posted…My dirty little daycare secretMy Profile

    • Herchel, did you see the comment that Kate made? Maybe you should ask about the dilation spray- sounds a WHOLE lot easier! Happy that you can get a discount on the Buzzy too!

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