Getting girl to take med is like magic

June 20, 2013|Amy Dulebohn

It was late, past closing time on a recent weeknight when the pharmacist finally handed me the bottle of medication. Full of fatigue and frustration at having to wait so long with a grumpy 3-year-old in tow, I snatched the bottle and hurried out the door. 

When I pulled the bottle out of the package at home, I cringed at the sight of the opaque copper-colored bottle. I recognized the sight all too well. It looked just like the bottles of medication prescribed for me when I was a child. No matter what my ailment was, those bottles seemed to come with the cure. The pink contents had a smooth and thick consistency, with a taste that was simply wretched. 

I hated taking medicine then, and I hate it now. And my daughter isn’t much different. A few months ago, she was running a fever and refused to take her cherry-flavored pain reducer. Luckily, the illness passed quickly, and so I didn’t feel compelled to push the issue of forcing the liquid down her throat. She was already sick, and I was already worried. Why escalate the situation? 


This time, she had a minor allergic reaction, and after a trip to the doctor, was prescribed a steroid, to take two teaspoons of each morning for five days. 

She was itchy, a condition she reminded me of every two minutes, or more, as if the telltale blotches around her little neck didn’t already do the trick. So, I reasoned, convincing my daughter to take her medicine wouldn’t be that tall of an order. She was uncomfortable and searching for relief. I had the magic in a bottle, so to speak. 

As usual, I was wrong. On the first morning, after much debate and drama, she agreed to take the medicine. That was until she got a swig of it in her mouth. She promptly spit it into the trash can. 

I had already tasted it, so I knew it was bad. It was similar to unflavored cough syrups marketed to adults. I could scarcely stomach it, how could I expect her to? Except that she had to. 

I told her I knew how badly it tasted, but reminded her she needed to take it so her itch would go away. I offered her drinks and treats to help chase it, while easing the syringe back into her mouth — and down her throat. The tiny amount that did make it out of the eye dropper ran back out of her mouth and dribbled down her chin. 

After that, I tried having her hold her nose back and pinch her nose in an attempt to hide the terrible flavor. That didn’t work, either. 

Nor did me telling her she couldn’t watch TV that night, or have any candy, or play with my makeup, and the list went on. 

At last, defeated, we went on to the baby sitter. She suggested I let her try administering the medication, saying my daughter would be more likely to do something like take medicine at someone else’s house. I agreed to try that the next day, even though I really didn’t think that trick would work in this case.  

That night, much to my shock, my daughter didn’t ask to watch TV at all, nor did she ask for any sugary snacks. The next morning, she didn’t try to finagle into my makeup bag for my lipstick and powder to adorn on her face. 

By then, I knew she meant business about not taking her medicine. But, still, I tried again, with no luck. So, I reluctantly packed the ugly dark bottle and syringe  to take to the baby sitter. 

And wouldn’t you know it, eventually she did take the medicine while at the baby sitter’s house. Amazingly, when the baby sitter offered a juice or milk chaser, or told her to lean her head back and hold her nose, the bad taste was somehow disguised. When her daughter stood next to my child and said, “Abracadabra,” that helped even more. 

Life would be easier for me if my daughter would have simply taken her medicine at home, but I’m grateful she took it at all, and her rash dissipated. 

Maybe, the next time I am sick, I should head to her baby sitter’s house myself when it’s time to load up on my ill-tasting medication. Abracadabra!

First-time mother Amy Dulebohn is a page designer and feature writer at The Herald-Mail. Her email address is

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