When Your Child Is Sick and Refuses Meds: 9 Health Tips

Tuned In Parents - 9 Tips for Administering Medicine to Resistant KidsMy son was three years old the first time he got tonsillitis. Not ever having had to give medicine to my child before, I had no idea what I was in for.

The tonsils, which stop germs and bacteria from entering the body, can become infected. His doctor prescribed an antibiotic, and the pharmacist instructed me to administer the full course of the medication so that the infection would not return. Yet, from the get-go, my son made it perfectly clear, without so much as a word, that taking medication was not going to work for him. He vomited faster than I could flinch. The only thing that improved with the second dose was my reaction time.

So much for finishing the whole prescription.

I tried reasoning with him. However, anyone with kids knows it’s rather difficult to reason with a three-year-old on a good day, never mind when his body is being invaded by harmful bacteria; forget about trying to convince him to put some foul-tasting liquid in his mouth “to make him feel better.” I had to change tactics.

It was time to outsmart him. He’s three. How hard could it be? I hid another dosage in a bowl of chocolate pudding. He smelled it before I even dealt it to him. He absolutely refused to open his mouth. Another dose wasted. That was three strikes.

Tuned In Parents - tips for giving medicine to sick, resistant kidsEventually, I figured out a way to treat his infection and work around his age-appropriate uncooperative reaction to medication.

You know when you take your child to get an injection, and you’re asked to hug them firmly, so their arms and legs don’t flail about, and your child doesn’t wriggle away? I held my son in a similar way and used an oral syringe. An oral syringe allowed the medicine to bypass his taste buds and travel to the back of the throat so he wouldn’t taste it. Success!

I suppose an easier way could have been used, which would have made it better for the both of us. Nonetheless, he did get better; and with subsequent infections, I relied on my method to administer the medications he needed to recover. He eventually outgrew his distaste for medicines once he learned to swallow pills whole.

9 Tips: How to Safely and Effectively Administer Medicine to Sick, Resistant Kids

Here are nine health tips for parents to keep in mind when giving children, especially reluctant children, medication.

Before administering any medication:

  1. Always check with your child’s pediatrician to make certain the required medicine is safe for your child.
  2. Always check the expiry date on the medication and make certain the proper dosage is being dispensed.
  3. Start with a positive and relaxed approach as if any resistance from your child is not expected.
  4. Give your child a choice. For instance, what is his/her preference: sit or stand, dosing spoon or oral syringe, for you to place the medicine in his/her mouth or would (s)he like to do it him/herself? Offering choices will make your child feel as though (s)he has a say in the situation.
  5. Consider using oral syringes, which are available from the pharmacy. When using them, be certain to slide oral syringe slowly along the cheek to the back of the mouth before squeezing.
  6. Numb your child’s taste buds before administering medication. Give him/her an ice cube to suck on or gently pinch the nose, even if (s)he wants to do it, it will lessen the taste of the medication.
  7. Be sympathetic in regards to his/her dislike for medication without being too apologetic. Offer reassurance that everyone takes medication, and it is necessary in order to get better.
  8. Offer praise when (s)he has swallowed the dosage, but don’t make it the main focus.
  9. Some pharmacies will add a flavor to the medicine to hide the taste. Speak to your pharmacist about this.

Children get sick. It’s a fact of life. At times, medication is required for their recovery. Administering medicine properly to children can be a challenge, but with the right technique, it doesn’t have to be.

Tuned In Parents - Emma The Health MadamContributed by Emma: Emma is a citizen journalist and writes about issues concerning health and nutrition. She also posts information and recipes regarding health and nutrition on her blog: www.thehealthmadam.com.

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2 comments on “When Your Child Is Sick and Refuses Meds: 9 Health Tips

  1. Great tips as my daughter hates medicine so badly and it’s so hard to get her to take anything when she really needs it. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme.

    • Thanks, Jenny! It is frustrating, though understandable, when we’re trying to treat our kids when they’re sick and they’re uncooperative. Hopefully, these tips will get plenty of kids back to their energetic selves in no time. 🙂

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