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Tara Kompare, Pharm.D
Tara Kompare, Pharm.D is a part-time pharmacist and full-time mother. She received her Doctor of Pharmacy from Virginia Commonwealth University.

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Medication Wars
September 2006

Do not look them in the eyes, and never let them see you sweat. Perched upon a chair appearing so innocent and sweet, is your child, awaiting her first dose of antibiotic. Your next few steps are critical. Ed Asner once said, “Raising kids is part joy and part guerilla warfare.” This is especially true whenever we are trying to get them to do something they know they have to do, but may not want to do. If you are one of those unlucky parents who have to prepare for battle each time you reach for a medicine spoon, I have created the easy-to-remember acronym “MED TIPS” to hopefully make your life a little easier, especially during cold and flu season.

-Music magic: Watch their faces light up when you start twirling around the kitchen and flailing your arms about as if you are auditioning for the next reality dance contest. Children love to see their parents acting silly, so go ahead--do the Funky Chicken, or the Electric Slide--I dare you. The key here is distraction and entertainment.

-Encourage participation: Who doesn’t like to be in control of what goes into their own mouth? Toddlers especially are notorious for their strong sense of “I’ll do it myself” syndrome, so let them help, with your guidance of course.

-Delivery device: One of the most awesome inventions is the pacifier medicine dispenser. It worked like a charm with my second child. I recommend rotating various devices, such as dose cups or syringes until you find the one they like best.

-Trickery: The art of disguise is also very useful. Chocolate milk, yogurt, and ice cream are quite good at covering up the taste of “yucky” meds. However, some medications are not to be mixed with dairy products, so always ask your pharmacist before you start employing this tactic. Other tricks include the use of reverse psychology. When I say to my three year old “Don’t you eat that broccoli,” she eats it up in an instant. So try, “Don’t you take that medicine.” I know it sounds weird but it works!

-Imitations: My infant likes jungle noises and my preschooler likes magic tricks. The monkey sounds make my infants mouth open wide with laughter and then I can squirt her medicine in. When I am the magician, we make the medicine magically disappear.

-Pace yourself: Some children like to get it all over with in one bug gulp or swallow. Others prefer baby amounts in a slow and time-consuming process. Each child is different and as we all know, their preferences change on a daily basis.

-Sweeten it up: Some pharmacies are able to sweeten up liquid medications for a small fee. If that doesn’t work, you can always go for the tried and trusted spoonful of sugar. Whether you mix it directly into the medicine or coat the spoon with it, it is a good one to try. An alternative to plain sugar is a chocolate or caramel syrup-coated spoon. Go ahead, try it yourself!

Hopefully, after employing one, or many of the above options, you will have accomplished a very significant feat: proper medication delivery. If you are one of those lucky parents whose children will take anything, congratulations--just make sure you keep all medicine out of their reach. For the rest of us, do your best, and take pride in knowing that although you may have spent the last hour doing the Macarena, singing show tunes, and making monkey sounds, you are doing what’s best for your child, even if they put up a fight…

*P.S.S. (Parent Sanity Saver): Do not attempt the above tactics while wearing your favorite shirt. It is likely to be ruined.

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