After a string of ear, nose, and throat infections, 3-year-old Shana had developed quite a talent for refusing to take her medicine. "She turns her head, runs away, and performs a whole-body wiggle dance just to make sure not a drop of it enters her mouth. She has even made herself throw up when she sees it coming," says her mom, Julia Jaman of Brooklyn, New York.
Sound familiar? Getting kids to take their medicine is no small task, especially when you're faced with a balky, feverish toddler. According to a survey by the American Academy of Pediatrics, about 25 percent of pediatricians reported that their patients often fail to take medication as prescribed. The leading reasons for noncompliance include too many doses and unpleasant taste.
A parent's first step should always be to consider whether the medicine is truly necessary. "Over-the-counter cold, cough, and flu remedies won't do anything to cure or shorten the duration of the illness," says Michael K. Levine, MD, a pediatrician in Atlanta. In addition, some symptoms are actually beneficial. "A cough is productive because it's working the mucus and germs out," says Dr. Levine. "Allow the child to cough it out during the day, and give her medicine only at night so she can rest."
Of course, some things, like taking an antibiotic prescription, are simply not negotiable. However, you don't have to resort to tackling your child and force-feeding. Try these surefire -- yet kind and gentle -- ways to get the medicine down.