There is definitely no single age when kids should move to pills. We have 5 year olds who nonchalantly shrug their shoulders when asked and 12 year olds who look at us like we are crazy to ask “pill or liquid”. As a child of 8 or 9, my parents brought out a bag of M & M (may have been Reeses Pieces) and we kept trying until I finally got it. In general, kids are ready to swallow pills by 6 years old, and most kids have mastered the skill by 10.
As kids get older it is important to learn this for two reasons. First, many adult medicines do not come in liquid form. Second, as an older child, you have to take a lot of liquid to get your required dose. Here are a few tips when you decide to make the switch:
- Keep calm – This can be an anxiety provoking situation for some children. If your child senses your anxiety, he or she will be more nervous and this will significantly decrease your chance of success.
- Practice small – Maybe start with a sprinkle, increase to a chip, and then an M & M. I like to put 3 of each out on a plate so they understand what is going to happen and there are no surprises. This way they can see the finish line.
- Remain calm – After the practice is over, parental nerves can pick up again. There is just something different between practice and game time.
- Once your child is comfortable with the M & M, try a non-chewable multivitamin and then the actual medicine. If they succeed, give them some positive feedback and if not, encourage their effort and try again in a few days. Some kids have a serious aversion to swallowing pills. In this situation, don’t push it and let us know. In certain cases, we need to involve a CBT therapist to overcome this fear.