Helping Little Kids get Excited About Their Meds

Mar 06, 2017

“When water is scooped up in the hands,
the moon is reflected in them;
when flowers are handled,
the scent soaks into the robe.”

Zen Master Hoyen

Helping Little Kids get Excited About Their Meds

TISA Description of the Problem: The following delightful tip addresses a common problem in pediatrics – toddlers fussing about taking meds. It is sometimes hard for small children to truly understand why they are taking meds, and once they decide they don’t want to be bothered, tantrums and tightly clamped lips sometimes result. Dipankar Mukhopadhyay, M.D. has uncovered a fun and effective strategy for pre-empting such problems.

Tip: I find that little kids get a kick out of the idea that they have to “keep tabs” on Mom or Dad rather than vice versa. This phenomena can be put to good use in helping kids get interested in taking their meds. After writing out the script, I turn and hand the script to the young patient saying:

“Now this piece of paper will allow you to get your medicine from the pharmacist. This medicine will really help your sore throat to feel much better. But the only way it will work is if your Mom remembers to give it to you once in the morning and once at bedtime. Do you think you can make sure your Mom remembers to do this?”

Engaging these young patients in the “monitoring” of their parent’s behavior usually gets a chuckle from the parent and an enthusiastic nod from the child.

TISA Follow-up: I love it! It is a wonderful example of “externalizing the problematic behavior,” a technique often of use in children and adolescents. For instance, a child who has been teasing another child may be told that there are problems with teasing at school (and why it is a problem) and then may be asked to help make sure it isn’t happening anymore in the hallways, perhaps being tried as a hallway monitor.

Tip provided by:

Dipankar Mukhopadhyay, M.D.
Chicago, Illinois