Children with cystic fibrosis are just like every other kid. And there are going to be times they won’t want to do what’s best for them. Here are 10 tips to help you get them to take their CF medications so they can be happier and healthier.
1. Sprinkle Enzyme Capsules in Something Sweet
Many children with CF need to take enzyme capsules with meals and snacks. If they’re going through a phase where they don’t want to swallow them, you can pull the capsule apart and sprinkle the contents in yogurt or applesauce. Just remember they have to swallow the tiny pellets without chewing them.
2. Do Treatments Together
Sometimes a child feels alone or scared during a treatment. If you’re both doing the activity, they might feel better. Ask for an extra nebulizer mask, and you can both wear them during breathing treatments. Take turns practicing postural drainage on each other. Instead of your child having something done to them, treatments can become something you do as a team.
3. Find Quiet Activities to do During Nebulizer Treatments
Any parent can tell you how hard it is to get a child to sit still. Children with CF often need to take breathing treatments, and it can be difficult. Try letting them choose a variety of positive activities they can do while taking a treatment. Puzzles, coloring, building toys, and books are all great ways to pass the time. You might let your child pick out a special toy that they only play with while using the nebulizer. Keep these activities together in a box so they’ll be handy at treatment time.
Often when a child refuses medicine, it has less to do with the medicine and more to do with how they feel. Take a moment to sit with your child and ask how they are doing. It might save you more frustration down the line.
5. Take the Time to Explain
Children often don’t know the reason for a specific medication—or the consequences if they don’t take it. It’s easy for them to get frustrated when they don’t know what is happening. Take the time to explain what the medicine does and how it will help them. Use age-appropriate words to help them understand. A younger child might want to pretend to give the medicine to a stuffed animal, while a teenager might want to look up the medication on the internet with you.
6. Build Responsibility
The more a child is involved with their treatment routine, the less likely they are to fight it. A small child can be in charge of turning on the breathing machine, and a teenager can keep track of their own medication. The sooner you start this transfer of control, the easier it will be.
7. Find a Reward System that Works
You can’t buy your child a toy every time they take their medicine, or at least you shouldn’t. But you can give your child a sticker to put on a chart or calendar. Once the page is filled, rewards don’t have to be expensive. It will be more effective if your child has some choice in the matter, and a reasonable treat or free activity might be all you need.
8. Be Understanding About Medicine at School
Children might feel awkward or embarrassed about taking medicine around other kids at school. If this is an issue, talk to the teacher, school nurse, or principal about a more private way that your child can take their medicine. There should be a way you can work together to help your child feel at ease.
9. Phone a Friend
Unfortunately, a child will sometimes act their worst for the people they love the most. If Mom usually helps a child take their pill, maybe Dad can take a turn. If all else fails, sometimes a grandparent or family friend can convince the child, whether it’s in person or over the phone. It can be hard to ask for help, but when the goal is caring for your child, you’re strong enough to do what you have to do.
10. Talk to Your Doctor or Pharmacist
Speaking of asking for help, talk with the people who help treat your child. Children efusing to take medicine is a problem they’ve dealt with before, and they want to work with you. The pharmacist can sometimes add flavors to medicine to make it taste better—and if there are options be sure to let your child choose! Your doctor might be able to adjust the dosage from four doses a day to two more concentrated doses. It’s up to you to communicate with your team of caregivers so that your child gets what they need to be healthy.
IV Solutions is here to help you and your child understand more about cystic fibrosis treatments. We also have some great healthy recipes for you to try.
Getting Children to Take Their Medicine. PBS. Accessed March 10, 2015.
Coghill D. How do I get my child to take their medicine? NetDoctor. May 23, 2013. Accessed March 10, 2015.
Iliades C. 10 Ways to Get Kids to Take Medicine. Everyday Health. February 3, 2011. Accessed March 10, 2015.