Ask Family Doctors: Pill-swallowing for Kids

Ask Family Doctors: Pill-swallowing for Kids

Ask Family Doctors: Pill-swallowing for Kids

Think back to your childhood. What do you remember most fondly? Is it the long, lazy summer nights, as intricate as living things–the crickets chirping, the sky changing color above your head, the stars just beginning the show their bright faces? Is it the adventures you had and the games you played, all fueled by a fresh new imagination? Or, perhaps, is it the pillow forts?

Whatever you loved about your childhood, you probably remember pill-swallowing with a bit less fondness–and you’re not the only one. Pill-swallowing is the infamous enemy of childhood itself. Of course, to a parent, swallowing pills no longer seems so daunting; what can seem daunting is getting the little ones to take their medicine.

Problems Swallowing Pills

It has been generally unclear why it is so difficult for kids to swallow pills and at what age the “pill comfort” threshold is crossed. The truth is, it all comes down to the individual child. Some kids never experience anxiety over swallowing pills, while the discomfort stretches long into the teen years–and perhaps even adulthood–for others. What is the solution? A group of recent studies suggest that there are different techniques that work for each child. For example, one kid might be more comfortable swallowing a pill after a little teaching and example-setting from mom and dad, while another kid might find more help in a flavored spray to lubricate the throat during pill-swallowing.

Tips and Tricks

So, what can you do for your child? What techniques might help? Let our expert opens in a new windowFamily Doctors suggest some tips and tricks.

  • Early start. Many studies have suggested that pill-swallowing may only be a problem in that complex phase where anxieties abound–and that this may be easier before those anxieties arise, in the younger years. Children as young as two years old can begin “training” to swallow pills.
  • Practice. A little bit of practice can make anything seem easier, and pill-swallowing is no different. Kids might be able to swallow pills with more confidence if they are given the opportunity to practice. Placebo pills, small vitamins, or candy can be used for practice–just be sure that there is no confusion over what a pill is versus what candy is.
  • Stay positive. Children respond better to positive environments. Make pill-swallowing a “fun” process; encourage kids, reward them, and generally make sure that you do everything in your power to associate swallowing a pill with happiness rather than anxiety or stress.

Interested in more tips for kids’ health? Looking for reliable Family Doctors? opens in a new windowContact us today!

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