Medication Negotiation: Help me, help you, kid

The Jerry Maguire scene has been on repeat in my head all week: HELP ME HELP YOU.

HELP ME HELP YOU

Is what I’ve wanted to scream at my 3-year-old innumerable times. Sure, have a raging fever and spit out the Tylenol. That really hurts me. Well, actually it does hurt me. Maybe more than it hurts her, depending on what horrible time of the night it is. But why do sick kids make it so damn difficult to help relieve their misery with pain reliever? Seriously.

Why am I asking why.

Why not, right? If they make even the most mundane task, difficult, why not make something designed to help them feel better, difficult.

After a week of having a sick 3-year-old, I have since devised and modified some strategies for my youngest that previously worked on my older child when she was younger and sick. I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I wondered a few times if some covert CIA prisoner training would help me learn how to trick my sick prisoner into taking her medicine and keeping it down. I’m not above questionable methods when operating on little sleep and even less patience. At one point I considered feigning a toddler dental emergency so I could get her mouth propped open and dose her up that way.  Seems harmless enough, doesn’t it?

I even conducted a 15 minute intense brainstorming session with my mother on how best to dose her up during the inevitable multiple-times night wakings, crying, with fever peaking and yet still refusing the medicine. The logic behind protesting medication is something I’d pay big money for in that toddler-tell-all that I’m sure will be a best-seller if one of these damn kids would just give it up!

So today, because it is kid-sick-season, I offer you my best-of approaches and I’d love to hear what schemes and trickery work for you because we all know these tricks have an expiration date and the savvy toddler will wait until the next illness at 3am to let you know this trick ain’t working any more.

The Syringe Sneak Attack: The Element of Surprise

This particular technique works only on the youngest of the toddler set, in my experience, and requires cat-like reflexes on the part of the drug administrator and the distraction only a solid episode of the Backyardigans or Dora can provide. The drug administrator must first do some warm up stretches, loosen up the arms, the fingers, maybe a few jumping jacks. Then evaluate the seating position of the toddler. Can he see you from his peripheral vision? Then abort the mission. Can you approach him on the right angle that works best with your hand-eye coordination? For instance, a sneak attack attempt with the loaded syringe into the left side of my toddler’s mouth results in a #parentingfail. I have to get it into her right side. Evaluate their seating position and vision limitations. Are they preoccupied enough? Is it the trifecta of dosage opportunities? If so, you must approach quickly, eject the medication at warp speed accurately into the back corner of their mouth and then move quickly away from said subject. Then enjoy the rush that comes with defeating your competitor in this match. The victories are small but meaningful to a tired parent.  If the element of surprise is foiled by an older sibling who rats out your approach or a show ending, forget it, the Tylenol will immediately be spit back out (hence why you move quickly away but not out of eye sight). If the toddler is closer to 3 than 2, in my experience, they are too savvy for this technique.

The Prolonged Negotiation: Candy

My neighbor tipped me off to this technique this week. I’ve mistakenly been attempting to dose up my kid quickly and just get it over with, despite how frequently she spits it right back out. Turns out, it can take 15-20 minutes to drink one tsp of Tylenol but if it gets it into her system, then I am prepared to pack my patience. The lynchpin to the success of this technique is bribery – what do you have that the toddler wants ENOUGH that they will participate in said game? In my house, as I’m sure in yours, it’s candy. Oddly, it must have something to do with the shiny lid to the breath mints, but the Icebreakers pulled up from the rear as what I would consider the LEAST appealing “candy” into the biggest motivator this week, along with marshmellows or life saver gummies. Typically we would rotate through all three, take a sip, get a piece, take a bigger sip, get another piece, and so on. This technique, while painfully long, tends to result in the least amount of drama chez moi. Another small victory but this time for both parties – kid gets candy and medicine, parent gets medicated kid.

Life savers, Icebreakers, Marshmellows & Medicine....all part of the fun

The O’Dark Thirty Slurpee: The Petri Dish of Deceit

 Finally, the piece de resistance, the most brilliantly executed scam to get her to take the medicine came from my prolonged brainstorming conference call with my mom. How to best get a sick, fever-ridden 3-year-old to take another dose of medicine at 2am when mommy’s reflexes are definitely not cat-like and no one has the patience for a prolonged candy negotiation yet it is critical that they digest another dosage so everyone can go back to sleep? This requires some advance work, some strategy and organizing all the tools to execute it properly. We discussed several options when finally my mom suggested the old faithful: Popsicle. Who ever says no to a popsicle? Even at 2am? So what did I do? Carefully considering the importance of her taking the entire dose and not diluting it too much with some kind of liquid, we agreed that I should cut a tip-off a popsicle, mash it up so it has the consistency of a slurpee, then put it back in the freezer. Then in the middle of the night, when she’s crying in my room, retrieve the petri dish of deceit from the freezer, quickly squirt the appropriate amount of Tylenol into the slurpee (clearly your tools and medicine is lined up ready for you), then innocently offer her a cool refreshing slurpee sip, which in the dark and their sleepy toddler haze, seems perfectly reasonable and quite lovely. It’s a win-win. This approach worked brilliantly for me, much to my great relief. I even lined it up ready for the next night but she fortunately didn’t need it.

Please tell me I am not alone in this agony. What techniques work for you?

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3 Responses to Medication Negotiation: Help me, help you, kid
  1. mamma of 2 boys
    December 15, 2011 | 9:18 pm

    love the post!!!! Unfortunately the sneak attack wouldn’t work in my house especially with my oldest – he would vomit after every sneak attack!

  2. Bridget
    December 16, 2011 | 11:47 pm

    That Slurpee technique is nothing short of BRILLIANT. You should be receiving royalties every time someone uses it. Genius.

  3. mjg
    December 19, 2011 | 6:27 pm

    HILARIOUS.. it was even better than we planned!!!

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