How to teach children to swallow pills and medicines

Children need to learn to swallow pills in order to take certain medications in the future. Find out how you can help your child with this learning.

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz on December 09, 2021.

Last update: December 09, 2021

All of us, at different times in our lives, need to resort to taking a pill, either to alleviate a specific pain or to follow a treatment under medical prescription. Therefore, we share some tips to teach children to swallow pills.

In the end, the ability to ingest drugs in capsules is essential. For adults it is already a simple and automatic action that we do not pay attention to, but for the little ones it can be complicated.

During the first years of your child’s life you will not have to deal with this situation, since children’s medicines usually come in liquid form (syrup) or chewable tablets.

Nevertheless, as the child grows it will be important to encourage him to try and practice, as you will not always have these other alternatives. If you don’t know where to start, pay attention to the following suggestions.

Why teach children to swallow pills?

We all need to take a pill at some point in our lives. This is why this learning is so important.

First of all, it is important to be clear about why it is necessary to teach children to take pills. This clarity will motivate us to begin the process, since it is possible that we end up leaving it aside, if we see them small or they resist.

Keep in mind that this learning will be very useful to them throughout their lives. Not all medications can be taken in liquid form, nor can they be crushed or crushed; in fact, doing this many times reduces its effectiveness, alters its function, and can lead to complications.

If your child learns at the time, with your help and your guidance, he will have already taken a step that he will not forget from now on. Conversely, if for any reason you postpone learning, it will have to be acquired in the future, perhaps under greater pressure or with more fear.

Trying and achieving it will also boost your self-esteem and your confidence in your abilities; So, when the time comes, do not hesitate to accompany him in this process. You are ready?

How to teach children to swallow pills?

An initial question to consider is the appropriate age to teach children to swallow pills. There is no single correct answer and it will always depend on the maturity and disposition of the child (it is preferable to address the issue when your child is open and motivated to try).

Nevertheless, must be at least four or five years old, since before this moment it can be dangerous. Now, if you have decided to start this process, keep the following considerations in mind to complete it successfully.

The right time and place

In addition to waiting for the child to be of a suitable age, you have to look for the most propitious moments to start teaching him to swallow pills. For instance, try to do it in your own home, at times when you are calm, relaxed and unhurried and in which there are no other distractions.

Your child must put his full attention on what he is going to do, so he cannot be watching TV or playing at the same time. Secondly, it is preferable to start training with him when he is healthy.

If you try to teach him to take pills when he is ill, his mood and disposition will be much worse; In addition, you will feel pressured because you will need the medicine to heal. It is better to avoid these complications.

What to use during training?

Training can be done with edible confetti, chocolate chips, or small candies.

A child does not learn to pass a tablet in a single day and cannot be given medication for no reason or reason. Thus, for training You can start by using small and attractive foods like confetti for cakes.

As the child gains confidence, they can move on to other, more voluminous options, such as chocolate chips or some candies. Finally, it is possible make the final stretch with real pills such as multivitamins age appropriate.

Clear instructions and supervision

This is a new experience for your child, and it may cause some fear and misgivings. Therefore, to facilitate the process, tries to provide you with sequenced, simple and clear instructions. Go accompanying him in each step and serve him as an example. You can guide him with instructions similar to the following:

  • Ask him to get in a suitable position (whether you are sitting or standing, your back should be straight and your head upright and slightly tilted back)
  • Give him a glass of water and encourage him to take a sip, so that practice the swallowing motion.
  • Now, install take the confetti, candy or pill and place it in the center of your tongue.
  • Finally, it has to drink water again to pass the pill. You can continue drinking if you feel like you haven’t quite gone the first time.

Patience and perseverance

Remember that for the learning to be complete it will take several days or weeks. A) Yes, you can spend a few minutes each day practicing and progressing. In any case, be sure to reward your child for his efforts and attempts, even if he has not yet achieved the final result. The key is to be persistent.

When to speak to a professional?

As a general rule, when teaching children to swallow pills, most of them learn it without problem. However, some minors may encounter special difficulties. For instance, if they do not trust themselves, they become very nervous or afraid of new changes and challenges.

If they have had bad experiences before when trying medications, they may show great reluctance to try again; and the same happens if they have suffered an episode of choking on food.

In addition, children who are especially sensitive to certain textures or who have developmental problems, swallowing disorders or behavior may represent a greater difficulty.

In these cases, it is not convenient to force the child and generate unpleasant and constant discussions. It is preferable to consult a specialist and follow their recommendations in this regard.

In short, this is just one of the lessons that we must transmit to our children throughout their growth. And, as in all the others, patience, understanding and motivation are the key. Remember that what is simple for us can be a challenge for them.

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