The scenario: your child is ill and needs antibiotics. It is particularly critical to get them better as you are hosting Christmas lunch at your home in 4 days and have a heavily pregnant relative attending. The stakes are high. The kid knows it. When Mary Poppins sang her classic line “Just a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down”, she hadn’t met my children. If she has given you false hope and, like me, you’re having trouble getting your kid to take their medicine please follow these clear steps.
Disclaimer: I did not say ‘easy’ steps, I said ‘clear’ steps. Good luck.
But before we start I have a gift for your eyes:
Tell your child it’s time to take their medicine. After they protest loudly, complaining that it tastes like sand, bribe them with the promise of lollies, chips, ice blocks or lemonade if they take it happily.
When they reject your bribery offer, you will start to lose patience as you look at the clock and realise you need to leave for work soon. Tell them they MUST take the medicine and you can do it the easy way or the hard way. When they look at you blankly, explain that the easy way is for them to take it voluntarily and then get a treat. The hard way is for you to chase them, catch them and hold them down whilst trying to squirt the syringe full of medicine down their throat, knowing that they will then spit 90% of it up on your clean outfit.
The child runs away and hides, screaming. You chase them, grab them and carry them (lovingly) to the couch in an attempt to hold them down with 1 hand whilst holding a dripping syringe style medicine dispenser in the other hand. Child screams and develops octopus limbs and the strength of a lion. Their open screaming mouth moves like a clown’s head at a carnival but with the accelerated rotation speed of a ceiling fan.
You feel like an abusive parent and are filled with shame and let go of the child. They run away and hide under a bush in the backyard, sobbing and curled up in the fetal position.
You resist the urge to drink wine at 8am as you realise your syringe is still completely full of medicine
Take a deep breath. Collect your thoughts. You think you can still talk the child into taking the medicine voluntarily.
Approach the delinquent child carefully, like you would a wild deer, so you don’t scare them away. They see you coming and start screaming again. Check the neighbours aren’t watching. You feel a new wave of shame wash over you. Child runs away again and hides under the trampoline.
Admit this isn’t working. Reassess and change strategy. Lightbulb moment occurs in your head.
Prepare 3 milo drinks. Squirt contents of syringe into cup 1. Call out to runaway child and tell them “It’s OK, you don’t have to have the medicine. I’ve changed my mind.” Child cautiously comes out of hiding, then seeing you look sincere and given they are unable to locate medicine, skips into the house triumphantly.
Call out “Who wants a yummy milo?! Milo for everyone, sit up at the breakfast bar”. Ignore the guilt that is pressing on your conscience. When your child asks suspiciously “is there medicine in my milo?” it is prudent necessary to lie. Appropriate responses include: “No, of course not! Drink up! It’s a competition! Whoever finished their milo IN FULL gets a lolly!!!”
As the child still looks a bit suspicious, make a joke about butts or someone farting so they will laugh and forget all else and start drinking.
When child complains about the lumps in the milo, rummage through at least 5 kitchen drawers to locate sieve and strain the drink. Start the process over again.
When child complains they don’t really want the milo, invent link between health benefits and victory. E.G. “This milo is so healthy! It’s full of vitamins and minerals! You must drink the WHOLE THING to win the game”
As child continues to drink for the sake of the ‘game’, despite not enjoying it, whilst other children continue to whisper and snicker, ignore the nagging feeling that you’ve produced a child who isn’t very bright.
Softly threaten chattering older children with iPad ban for the next 3 YEARS if they don’t keep silent.
Push down the feelings of guilt that continue to wash over you.
When child spills the drink on the bench, try your best not to lose it. Carefully scrape drink back into cup despite legitimate hygiene concerns due to the questionable level of cleanliness of benchtop and stand by them chanting “Skull, skull, skull!!!”
Child finishes drink. Hip hip freakin’ hooray! Before falling into an exhausted heap, distribute sugary reward and hope to goodness the child ingested at least 50% of the required dose of medicine.
12 hours later: drink heavily and repeat process.
Lie in bed at night and hope that you gave the medicine-spiked drink to the right child.
Wake up to a new day. Start again and hope that your child really isn’t that bright so you don’t have to come up new strategy. Repeat all steps. Then sob into coffee.