How to Win the Take-Your-Medicine Battle!


We’ve all been a part of moments like this, some of us more often than others:

Your child sits on one side of the table, eyeing you with suspicion. More specifically, eyeing what is in your hands. You are shielding your hands with little success, hoping that the popsicle you just gave your child a few minutes prior was a satisfactory peace offering. Your child backs away as you lean in.


You’ve just launched the first salve in the TYMB, the Take-Your-Medicine Battle!

For those who have to give their children medications everyday, these battles collectively comprise the TYMW (Take-Your-Medicine War), a drawn-out conflict where the parent hopes to emerge a daily winner more often than not, success measured by measures such as monthly blood drug levels or positive behavioral outcomes.

But there are a few key issues at hand.

1) Your child is sick (either acutely or chronically) and needs the medicine.
2) The medicine smells like vulcanized rubber and tastes like sweaty feet (during medical training, we spend a day tasting all of the medicines we prescribe- I write from experience).

During my week as a medical volunteer at a camp for special needs kids in Texas, I’ve learned that parents have become quite creative in the ways they administer medication. Perhaps you’ve tried these same techniques I saw at camp:

1) pills mixed with applesauce or vanilla icing
2) capsules taken with 2 ounces of soda as a chaser
3) tablets swallowed only with liquid taken through a straw
4) capsules opened, sprinkled into a straw, then delivered like a pixie stick
5) liquid medication injected into a hotdog or waffle

I apologize that doctors and pharmacies are not as helpful as we could be. We prescribe foul-tasting meds when we could choose tastier ones, solid pills when we could provide liquids (but sometimes we honestly have no choice). For those of you with children who have special needs, with children who need medications daily, I applaud you. I applaud your creativity, your perseverance, your dedication. Continue to fight the good fight. I do have some good news. Children grow up. They adapt. They won’t always need liquids (bye-bye bad flavors), and they won’t always have trouble swallowing (they often figure it out).

Don’t despair: you won’t win every battle but you are winning the war for your child’s health (even if sometimes you feel the medicines aren’t doing what the doctor says they are supposed to do). You’re winning the war because every time you try to get your child to take medicine, you show him or her something important: love. Giving a child medicine amidst their crying and frustration is an act of love because none of us enjoy seeing our children sad, sick or in pain. And the greatest part of administering medication to your child? After the five-minute battle, you are no longer your child’s adversary; you are back to being Mommy dearest, which to me means you win- regardless of the battle’s outcome! 

I have seen and heard countless success stories about how parents give their children medication. Do any of you have good stories about how you give medication to your child? Share your experiences at 



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