difficult child won't take medications

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by shellyd67, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    difficult child is just flat out refusing to take his medications in the morning. The last week or so he just is totally oppositional about his medications. It has been a battle beyond all battles. husband and I have been both trying relentlessly. He takes two small pills so this makes it even harder. husband and I were talking last night privately about ways we can encourage him and husband says, " maybe he doesn't need it anymore, maybe he is trying to tell us something and we aren't listening" I wanted to strangle him ! He needs it genious ! His impulses are off the hook and his focus is poor as can be. He requires them to function properly. I am so upset and I just don't know what to do at this point and I really could use some advice.
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    You will have to make his life so bad with-o the medications that taking them is a much better choice. First though, has he said why he won't take them? If they are making him sick he may not have the right words to tell you. After that is established, medications cannot be negotiable.

    I would NOT offer rewards of any substance for taking medications. Nothing more than a half spoonful of chocolate syrup - spoon YOU choose, lol. If he doesn't take them, he sits at the table - no food, nothing to do, no one to talk to him, (make getting up a really big unpleasant deal), etc.

    IF, at age 10, he is allowed the power to refuse medications, you will never ever have any authority again. For the most part I agree with the collaborative problem solving approach, but not medications. Children do NOT have enough knowledge or sophistication to make medical decisions. Unless the medication makes him feel awful, or make him sick, then he needs to take them when you tell him to. It is a basic safety issue, in my opinion.

    Can you lock him out of his room away from all his possessions and at the same time make sure that all the tvs, game systems, computers, etc... are inoperable? Maybe be able to confine him to one room with nothing to do?If so, use it. Tell him to either take his medications with-o full or spend however long it takes him to get over the drama and take them (in your sight, check to be sure he swallows) without giving you any problems, then he can sit here and he will not have ANY of his things.

    He needs to learn that medications are a decision that parents make for kids. Kids have a right to be heard, and to express how they feel, but in the end they have to do what they are told my Mom and Dad when it comes to medicines and drugs. If he is getting sick, or feeling strange, it is important to call the psychiatrist to let him know and try to change to another medication that might not have those feelings/sensations.

    Other than that is is a crucial battle - if a difficult child can make decisions on legally rx'd medications, he is a LOT more likely to make his own choices about illegal drugs.

    My own kids have told me that medications are an issue they do not hesitate on if I tell them to take something (or not to). They know that if the medication is causing a problem, even a funny feeling, that I will work to find another medication or a dose of that medication that doesn't have the problem.

    They also say they know that if they refuse after stating their concerns and being told again to take the medications, that I won't hesitate to grab pliers and pill them like the cat. (get control of their head/arms/whatever, push in on their cheekss until the mouth opens, use pliers to push the medications as far back as possible, close their mouth and massage their throat until they swallow a couple of time. Pliers mean no biting MY fingers!)

    At this point it is not an issue, but each kid still believes it will happen - even almost 19yo Wiz!!!!!!!

    If I sound too old fashioned, tough. There is just too fine a line between medications and illegal drugs, and too often our kids simply cannot get better and have full lives without medications.
  3. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    If the tweedles refused medications the world, as they knew it, stopped. No screen time, no friends, no phone ~ I invited them to sit in their rooms or in the dining room at the table. I didn't care what they chose. I had meltdowns, rages & the like however I stuck it out. I never ever (after about 3 tries out the tweedles) got a medication refusal again.

    In the meantime, medication compliance came with whatever drink of choice (flavored milk, juice, iced herb tea, etc) they wanted. kt & wm also earned by their screen time or whatever in their world stopped at the moment.

    I had to teach my difficult children that there were things I would negotiate on however the world stopped over health & safety issues; that included medications. Good luck

  4. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    I told husband all the things you ladies posted this morning. THAT IS IT no more TV, video games and good luck if your friends call or come to the door. He is pouting in his room now. I will not back down but could not restrain him this morning myself to administer medications. His manipulation and oppositional behaviors have given me a migraine today. My house is not a pleasant place to be today. husband is going to get an earjob from me tonight when he gets home from work. Enough is enough. I have to say that I wanted the OK from you girls to cut difficult child off from everything until he complies. Just wanted to make sure I was handling this the proper way. Thanks !
  5. graceupongrace

    graceupongrace New Member


    medications have always been a non-negotiable in our house too. I have explained to difficult child that as a minor, he does not have the legal right to determine his own medical care; his parents do. If he were to get sick and go to the hospital, he could not be treated without my consent; nor does he get to refuse treatment.

    That said, it's a good idea to see if he has concerns about the medications and address them with the psychiatrist. We switched difficult child from Concerta to Vyvanse a few years ago, and he says he feels better on the Vyvanse. (I think it's more effective too, plus it lasts much longer.) One time difficult child tried to claim the medications weren't working, but the psychiatrist straightened him out quickly on that one -- lol.

    Good luck!
  6. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Like others here, medications are a no-option issue in our house, too. Occasionally someone "forgets", but when I figure things out the next day because of their behavior, I am quick to point out all the trouble that person has gotten thanks to that decision. That's usually enough reminder to win back compliance from them. But then, mine are older and have gotten to the point where they do see the difference in how they feel on and off medications, and they don't particularly care for the consequences of an unmedicated life. Took us a long time and a lot of talking to get here.
  7. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Your son may be too big for you to physically force the medications into him. My kids somehow got this idea that I actually COULD physically administer the medications, even though I was not able to do that starting years ago. I didn't tell them I couldn't, of course!!

    Stopping all activities/friends/screens is excellent. It is just to complicated and important an issue (medical treatment) to let a child have the final say.

    You are doing great with this!!! I know it is hard, esp when they are PITAS all day because they are angry and unmedicated. I hope you have medications for the migraine!! Stay strong, you can outlast him. Maybe when you feel better go into his room and remove all the things he likes until he takes his medications if it lasts longer than a day?

  8. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Another house where are medications are non negotiable. Our policy is basically the same as Timer's!
  9. toughlovin

    toughlovin Guest

    Funny how kids are. Taking his medications was not an issue for our difficult child. One of the few things that wasn't. I think it was because initially he found that medications helped him or he thought they did. In reality he has not responded well at all to stimulants and it is unclear how well the other medications worked for him. So I am not sure we ever found a great solution.

    Recently after age 18 he decided he wanted to stop all medications. At that point I did not have a legal say in the matter and I thought maybe it is time for him to try life without them. I asked him the other day about it and he said things are not better or worse off medications... in which case he is probably better off of them. Of course he is now 18 and clearly no longer hyperactive although I still think he has focus and impulse issues.

    Given that he has drug issues I would just as soon he not mix them with medications so I am ok with him being off medications..... although i wish we had found just that right combo that would have made a big difference.

    So none of this really addresses your issues. I guess though I feel if your son can find the benefit in the medications it may help...do you have any idea why he does not want to take them? Is it because he doesn't like to swallow them, is it because of some side effect, is it because it is not cool to take medications? I think if you can get to that issue things will go a lot easier.

    I see where others are going with taking away all privileges....but it depends somewhat on the child. When we got into battles like that with our son, sometimes he would just do without the privileges!!! Getting into a power struggle never worked really well.

    I think what would work better is to tie it to one thing that you know the medications help with... so say it is focus... somehow let him feel what it is like not to be able to focus without medications. So assign a task that he will get some kind of reward for only it is a task that requires good focus and let him see how much harder it is without medications. I don't know how much sense I am making as I am kind of thinking out loud off the top of my head.

    I am just thinking if you have this battle at 10... that could be an 8 year long battle and you would be much better off if he could see the benefit of the medications.
  10. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Arent you the parent that said he "couldnt" swallow the pills? If not I may be thinking of someone else and its easy to do with my mind these days so forgive me. If its the actual swallowing issue then just getting the ability to swallow will ease this problem. If its because he doesnt like the way they make him feel, well I always told my son that barring some immediate horrible reaction we would give a medication a six week trial and if at the end of that period of time he still disliked it or it was making him still feel bad with side effects, we would try another medication. Worked for him. Six weeks should give a medication time to even out on side effects.

    There are some forms of medications that come in a liquid and you can get them flavored at the drug store for a few bucks. If you have a compounding pharmacy you could ask them if they could compound any of the medications into something that is more palatable in pill form. I know some of my pills just taste nasty in my mouth. Icky, yucky. I have to have something like a few jelly beans or a piece of chocolate to eat right after I take them to get rid of the taste. Of course I take a handful at a time at night so it doesnt help that Im bobbing my head up and down like an Iguana in heat...lol.
  11. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    :warrior:You GO, Shelly!

    In the meantime, you can figure out a better way for your difficult child to take the medications if necessary. Either way, it's non negotiable. Stand firm. Wear earplugs.
  12. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Janet has some good points and great ideas.

    Is it possible he is refusing because he is afraid that he will choke if he swallows it? It might be something he cannot even put into words, so it comes out as refusal with-o any reason. It would be a good idea to call the pharmacy to see if the medication is available in any other format - liquid, etc... If it is concerta then it is not because it is time released.

    Offer to let your difficult child have some beverage he does not often get, but really likes, to swallow the medicine with. Just don't try that 5 hour energy stuff, LOL!! Even a power drink if he is just going to have a few ounces of it (and you are sure you can keep him and everyone else out of the rest of the container!).

    Does he have a favorite cookie or candy, maybe something he doesn't get very often? Offer to let him have one piece/cookie after he takes his medications in the am. Heck, if his favorite thing is cake or even ice cream, offer to let him have a small serving right after he takes his medications IF he will eat a decent amount of something high in protein first. I know that cake/cookies/ice cream/pie is NOT breakfast food (unless your dad is Bill Cosby and mom is somewhere else, lol), but in this case they may be the right bribe/carrot to reach a larger, more important goal. Some cereals, even ones that schools serve, have at least as much sugar as a small serving, or it sure seems like it!

    Then you have to watch him eat some deli meat, a couple of eggs, even protein powder mixed with whatever. After that, offer his medications - washed down with his beverage of choice, and a serving of whatever. Just don't let him have the sugary cereal, or pancakes/waffles with syrup too! I know my difficult child would have tried, LOL!!!

    It may be that the candy/cake/whatever is enough novelty that he won't continue to refuse medications. If that doesn't work right away, has he ever shared a box of chocolates with the family (family box, or mom's box that he got a few pieces of?)? Maybe you could take him to pick out a box of chocolates that would be all his - but Mom keeps them locked up and he gets a piece if he takes his medications. He gets to see that the candy is right there when he takes his medications, and gets to eat it as soon as you make sure he swallowed the pill(s).

    The 6 week arrangement is also very very good. It sends a message to him that he is your "partner" in his health care. As a child he is the minor partner, of course. As he grows up the idea is to gradually let him have more control until he becomes the majority partner when he is an adult. He may think 6 weeks is forever, so pick a point that is about 6 weeks from when he started the medication. He can focus on that rather than the idea of "six weeks". In keeping with the partner idea, why not have him "take a meeting" with you weekly, set on the calendar and everything, so he can let you know how he is feeling and how the medication is or isn't changing things. You can offer your view of his behavior, attitudes, etc... and listen to his, as well as discuss any side effects.

    Concerta is a long acting form of ritalin. For some people it works better than ritalin XR, not for others. Others don't see a difference. If concerta works well but has some side effects, it may be worth trying ritalin xr. Otherwise you can ask the doctor about another long acting stimulant. It may be worthwhile to tell difficult child at some point that if he won't swallow a pill he may have to take medications every 3 hours at school if he has to have a liquid. I don't think that any of the long acting medications are available in a liquid, for obvious reasons.

    I hope some of these ideas work.
  13. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    Actually Janet I responded to another thread about pill swallowing. I noted that we had to have our difficult child's medications broken down into 2 18mg pills since he had trouble swallowing the larger 36mg. He tooks his medications this morning but my gut tells me he is going to refuse here and there. Today was a much better day than yesterday that is for sure. This is the only way Concerta can be dispensed being that it is time released. My instinct is that he wants to have some kind of "power" over me and husband. Not going to happen buddy !
  14. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Yeah that old power thing is a biggie. I was fairly lucky in that my kids never balked at the medications, at least until adulthood. My middle one went off ADHD medications the beginning of HS because he had to be medication free for 4 years before entering the Marines but that was a decision we supported. We worked other ways around it and it was okay. The goal was worth it.