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How to Give Medicine to your (Highly Sensitive) Child in 33 Easy Steps


If you are blessed with a highly sensitive, or sensory processing challenged child, you already know that some things are, well, let’s say, more of a challenge for us parents as well. Like administering medicine for example.

Which can be extremely stressful to a parent who is trying to help their child heal from an illness.  I am the first to hold off for a good long while before giving a fever reducer or an antibiotic if its not warranted. Especially with the added stress of knowing how that interaction will go.  And yes, I am highly sensitive myself 🙂 So seeing my kid scream and fight off meds sets me off, and causes me anxiety.

Ever since he was 3 or 4 months old and he got his first of a string of (double) ear infections, giving him ANY meds has been nearly impossible. The first one was the worst, I will never forget it. I didn’t know what was wrong with him. I was a brand new mom with no one to turn to for advice. He cried and cried, screaming all night long, and we had no idea why. He did have a little fever but nothing major. When we took him in the next morning to the pediatrician, they enlightened us on the double ear infection and sent us on our way with antibiotics, a syringe, and vague instructions on how easy it would be to give it to him. Little did they know of his superpower.

Giving him medicine was like giving him poison. He’d writhe, choke & gag no matter how “far back and between his gums and his cheek” you went.  A few months later with yet another ear infection, he was getting smarter and stronger, and it was getting harder and harder. I legitimately called in the big guns, I had a nurse come to my house to try and help me.  Now he would clamp his mouth shut if he saw it coming. Then it would take at least 2 people. You’d have to have 1 hold him down while the other tried their best to get it in while pinching his nose closed. He quickly got wise and then started spitting it back out.  This holding him down and forcing him just did not sit well with me. We ended up having to find a compounding pharmacy and get everything made into suppositories for the first 3 years of his life. Then he got too big and the suppositories resembled tiny missiles. So we had to abandon that solution.

Luckily between the ages of 3 and 5 the universe gave us a reprieve from all major illnesses. And we graduated to chewables for Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen. And that worked for a very brief while. Until  it didn’t. But we also grew as parents and learned  how to better work with and understand his sensitivities. And I grew into my own as a mother and discovered Peaceful Parenting, and with that  I finally found a parenting style that truly resonated with me and with my son especially.  I  also started connecting with like minded people with similar sensitivities and found some great moms groups that became my support system.

As he got older and his oral sensitivities increased, we realized my son is a “super taster”. Which someday, when he can be hired as a consultant to the finest restaurants in order to discern the delicate nuances of their latest delicacy, may come in handy. But having dealt with this trait since infancy has been difficult to say the least. Now that he is 5 and has “matured somewhat”, some things are a little easier. But he is still super picky about anything he puts in his mouth. His food variety is quite limited. He still has issues with textures, flavors, smells, etc.

So a few weeks ago, he got really sick. Scary sick. It landed him in the hospital with pneumonia, and we were sent home with 10 days worth of antibiotics. We had already been struggling for a week with trying to give him fever reducers every 4 hours because his temperature would hover right around 105. He felt awful, wasn’t eating, was barely drinking, was lethargic and I still had to fight him to take those damn chewables to keep him under control.

I was determined to find a more peaceful way to get him to take his meds for the 10 LONG days ahead. So I started thinking outside the box. I  got creative. I had some failed attempts, but with a little creativity and A LOT of patience and calmness, I did it. We did it. And there is a video to prove it. But first:

How to Give Medicine to your (Highly Sensitive) Child in 25 33 Easy Steps

1)  When you go to the pharmacy, request that the medicine be flavored with something that should be pleasing- start with watermelon. Because watermelon is yummy tasting, but unique enough that it’s not cherry or strawberry which, let’s face it,  everything on the planet is flavored after. If you start with strawberry, let’s say, then every time he tastes a real strawberry, or a strawberry popsicle, or candy, or juice etc. he will think of the medicine, reject the food,  it will create a psychological scar, then he’ll need years of therapy to get over it……..see? So trust me. Watermelon. You’re welcome.

2) Ask for extra syringes to make up for the ones he’ll chew up, or you’ll drop as you’re flustered trying to give him the meds, then your dog will chew  up.

3)  Go home and meditate before you attempt to give meds.

4)  Make yourself a Bloody Mary to relax you and further prepare you. Plus it’s got juice in it. Juice is healthy. You want to model healthy, right?

5) Calmly approach him with the medicine. But not too calmly, because then you’ll just look scary.

6)  Explain how important the meds are to him, how he needs them to get  better.

7)  If that doesn’t work, explain that if he doesn’t take them you’ll have to go right back to the hospital and get more blood taken out of his body, this time with a bigger needle.

8)  Go back to the pharmacy and get a new batch made with a different flavor.

9)  Pick up a bottle of wine, some flowers and chocolate for you.

10)  Pick up 8 or 10 Hot Wheels cars  as incentives.

11)  Go home and pour  yourself a glass of wine, fill the syringe with the meds, and try to give it to him while his favorite TV show is on to distract him.

12)  Tell him about the cool new Hot Wheels cars waiting for him after he takes his meds.

13)  Tell him if he doesn’t take the meds you’re going to give away the new Hot Wheels cars to the neighbors kids.

14)  Go back to the pharmacy to pick up  anxiety meds for yourself. And more wine.

15) Go to the mall and buy him his favorite loose-leaf tea from Teavana to make for him to rehydrate his poor little body.

16)  Go to the little newstand at the mall  and buy a pack of Lifesavers for right after he takes the meds to erase the taste of the meds (even though the meds are flavored and should taste half decent). Make sure the Lifesavers include cherry and strawberry.

17)  Go to the shoe store and buy yourself a cute pair of shoes, you deserve it.

18)  Go home armed with all your goodies (except hide the shoes, your husband won’t understand or appreciate the logic.)

19)  Boil distilled water, make the tea and steep it for 10 minutes to get all the good healthy benefits from the leaves.

20)  Add honey for even more healthy benefits and to make it taste sweeter.

21)  Put the tea in the fridge for 15 minutes because he prefers it cold.

22)  Dig around the kitchen cabinets for another 20 minutes looking for those cool-looking mason jars to serve the tea in because that will make it even more awesome.

23)  Bring him the tea while he sits still watching TV because you just needed that 45 minute break to make the tea and have a moment to yourself because he’s been clinging to you non-stop for the past week since he’s been so sick.

24)   Drink the tea yourself because suddenly the tea tastes funny to him and you just spent $12 a pound on those damn tea leaves.

25)  Explain yet again you understand he doesn’t like the taste of the meds, but he has to take them anyway in order to get well.

26)  Tell him he’s allowed to cry, yell, say whatever he wants for 5 minutes leading up to taking the meds and you will sit there right next to him calmly and listen intently.

27)  Tell him after he’s said what he needs to say, you will hold him and you will both breathe slowly together.

28)  Then after that, help him take the meds.

29)  When he does, follow it up quickly with a drink of water.

30)  Then, with a Lifesaver of his choice.

31)  Tell him how proud you are of him for being brave and taking the medicine.

32)  Go in your bedroom and cry happy tears that you finally found a solution.

33)  Repeat every 10 hours for the next 10 days.

And if you want to see that video I promised you, here is the link. Just promise you’ll come back here to finish reading, ‘kay?  This was 8 days into this process. Filming it in this “how to” style actually helped us solidify that he was brave and had come so far, and helped him feel really proud.

In the end, being calm for him, allowing him his feelings, being patient and consistent with him and understanding and respecting his needs was what worked. Well, that and the Lifesavers 🙂

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Why don’t you tell me about it in a comment below…..


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23 Responses

  1. This all sounds so familiar! Lauren is such a little drama queen about taking her medicine. She also had pneumonia after having the flu back in February – so needless to say -I wish I had read this blog months ago !!! LOL!!! Thank you for sharing your story and for the good tips! I think I used chocolate and lollipops as her chasers.

    1. Thanks for the response, Lisa! Yes, we’ll it makes sense, they were born so close together, lol. It was a looooooooooooong journey but I’m so happy it ended how it did. Lifesavers, Starburst and lollipops were his chasers.

  2. Thanks so much Amanda for the response, what an honor to have you here!!!! Yes, most definitely I see a lot of my son in both my husband and myself. And the medicine has always been sooooooo stressful. I look forward to the the milestone of him swallowing pills 🙂

  3. We get the pharmacy to do banana flavor and we mix it in our sons chocolate almond milk (the pharmacist verified this was okay to mix with). We have had to do this maybe 5 or so times since he was 2 and he always took it and even requests banana/chocolate milk when his dose is all gone 🙂 BTW our son is highly sensitive and has a sensory processing disorder.

    We also use this method to give him probiotics and omega cure fish oil every morning.

  4. My oldest HSC is now 11 but at 18 months we had to give her a daily antibiotic for her urinary reflux – the daily medicine lasted a year and a half, when the issue resolved itself, thankfully. Torture – total torture. She still needs certain types of medicines – some chewables make her vomit and she needs liquid still for a lot. But it is much easier for her to take it now – and she typically does it on her own. I do everything to avoid giving medicine to my 4 yo HSC (thankfully my 8 year is not HS) but had to give it to her yesterday and boy was it an ordeal. I know, though, that we’ll get through it eventually.

  5. The title had me laughing. My oldest HSC gags on any liquid medicine. She just cannot accept the taste, which to her, covers her whole mouth, much less swallow it. Since she was about 3yo, when she could safely take a tablet (cut to small pieces) at the correct dosage, we’ve never looked back. She’s 7yo now and her 5yo brother is headed in the same direction.

    1. Thank you for the comment! Yes, it’s a process and a learning curve for sure. I am excited to think of him swallowing tablets….I think that will be huge for us! Oddly enough, the other day he actually tried using a netipot since I explained I was using it for my sinuses…so we never with these kids what will bother and what will work! Best of luck with your 2!

  6. Hello. I want to thank you for the video you created with your son. This week I was dealing with the exact same issues as you with my sensitive four-year-old daughter who has an incredibly sensitive palette. Medication has been incredibly difficult. With a 10-day prescription for amoxicillin in a bubble gum flavored oral suspension, nothing I tried was working. We even put it in her favorite – vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips. Nothing working. Not until I did a search and found the beautiful video you made with Felix. Now for 3 doses in a row. We’ve lined up her medicine, water and treat, just like he has. We watch the video and she takes her medicine at the same time he does – like teamwork! She’s even excited to do it now. 180 degree shift from where she was. It’s beautiful and made a huge difference. And turned me from pulling out my hair to being the calm, confident mama I can be. Thank you! Marnee

    1. Thank you!!!! You made my week! I am so glad it could help!!! We struggled with this for so many years, so I feel you pain. Thank you for sharing and tell her Felix is very proud of her!

  7. I found this in the midst of an anxiety and depression-filled week trying to get my toddler to take meds. This made me laugh for the first time in days. Thank you!!!

  8. I really needed this this morning after getting kicked, punched, and bitten by my 8 year old over her daily nose spray. Thank you. Goodness I don’t drink but I appriciate your methods.

    1. Thank you so much for letting me know! The struggle is real! My son is now almost 11, thank goodness he now swallows pills. But STILL won’t do liquid medicine without a fight.

  9. Thank you!!! My 3yr old watched your video then started taking her medicine “like a big girl”. Transformed from traumatic experience to her being so proud of herself.

    1. Ah, thank you so much for sharing! I will tell Felix how he is still helping others with this video!! Tell her we’re proud of her!!!!

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