One of the biggest challenges for some people (not just kids) is swallowing pills. At some point transitioning to pills is important. They are easier to store. Some medicines do not come in liquid or chewable form. Some kids simply get so big that the volume of liquid they need to choke down becomes difficult.
When my son was a preschooler, I realized that he swallowed some things whole ~ usually things he didn't like, like a piece of meat. He sometimes needed oral steroids for wheezing. Steroids in liquid form are notoriously nasty. He would vomit it back up most of the time. The tablets are really small, so I decided to have him try those once. Easy as pie for him! I don't think we even had to practice. I just told him to not chew because it wouldn't taste bad and he knew what to do. I think he was so young, he didn't know that he should be scared of choking.
If only most people could teach themselves like that... Despite it being difficult to learn, most people can learn to safely swallow pills. Once the technique is learned, the size and the shape of the pill is not usually an issue.
There are many tricks people use to swallow pills. What works for one doesn't work for another. If your child isn't willing to give it a try, it's really not worth it. Since this is a mind over matter thing, it will be impossible if they're not on board. If they're not ready, every once in awhile you can mention how big of a bite of food they just ate and comment that they swallowed it easily. Remind them to let you know when they want to try to swallow a small piece of candy. (For many the temptation of extra candy is an automatic selling point.) Don't wait until they have an illness to start because no one wants to learn anything new when sick. Once they get the technique, be sure to do it often enough that they don't forget until they need to use it.
Never practice with real medicine, even if it's over the counter stuff. Kids should know that they are practicing without real medicine. At the same time as teaching them to swallow pills you can talk about medication safety: only take it when an adult says it's okay, keep it away from other children, never share medicine with others, take it as the doctor prescribed if it is a prescription, and how and when to use over the counter medicines. It's a great skill for kids to know all of these things, and good to review until they have it all down. I am sometimes surprised at nearly college aged kids not knowing what common medicines are used for if they have aches and pains or illness. They need to know!
When I had to teach my daughter to swallow pills, I bought a container of Tic Tacs and told her that when she could swallow 3 in a row without choking, she could have the rest and eat them without permission unless she already brushed her teeth at night. She loved that idea and took to the challenge excitedly!
If you try one of these methods and it isn't working, you can try another. You can practice with both round and oval shaped candies since medicines come in both forms. Avoid having your child take huge gulps because that can cause them to lose control of the swallow. There are special cups that you put the pill in and then drink from them. I have no experience with them, so will not review them here. Commonly used methods to learn pill swallowing:
Starting small and working up
|photo source: Shutterstock|