Starting nutritional supplement therapy with children can be very stressful for parents. Children with developmental disabilities (such as ADD/HD, Autism, Sensory Integration Dysfunction, etc) may be required by physicians to take anywhere from 6 to 20 different nutritional supplements each day. This can be overwhelming to parents, especially when their children do not swallow pills and strongly resist being forced to consume anything that is not of their choosing.
Once you have established your child’s nutrient requirement, you can select which form of supplement has the greatest chance of success, whether it is a powder, tablet, liquid, or capsule. Most supplements should be taken with food unless otherwise specified by your practitioner. Some individual supplements, such as amino acids, should not to be taken with food to maximize their absorption.
Adults generally find taking supplements relatively straightforward; however, encouraging a child to take supplements might be a completely different challenge. Giving your child supplements isn’t easy. The following information is based on the excellent guidelines by Lori Knowles in her online article Getting Children to Take Supplements. Below are six suggestions that have been tried and tested to help overcome the problems of children running away, clenched teeth or spitting back out what is put into their mouths. Whether the supplements you are giving are in capsule, liquid or chewable form, following these steps should help with getting your child to comply.
Give supplements with the same level of intensity that you use to give your child a lifesaving medication. Your child needs these supplements to support their brain, immune system, and overall nutritional status. Your child can sense when you mean business and you cannot allow them to think that taking their supplements is optional.
Hiding supplements in food and drinks is ineffective for three reasons. First, this only works for supplements with no taste or smell, and even then you can only get away with one or two supplements at a time. Second, your child may not finish the juice, applesauce, or yogurt you have mixed it in so they are not getting the nutrients they need and you end up wasting money. Third, (especially important if your child is a picky eater), he or she may become suspicious of what you may or may not have hidden their food. As you add more supplements to their needed regimen, the hidden supplements trick will backfire on you.
You need to consider the sensory/swallowing issues that your child has. Does your child do better with liquids or semi-solids? The two most common mediums in which to mix supplements are baby fruit purées or 1 or 2 tablespoons of strong-tasting liquids. Other liquids suitable to mix supplements in include: pear, pineapple, orange, or water. It is recommended that you only use 1 or 2 tablespoons of liquid and only use the liquid of choice for giving supplements, not for regular drinks, in order to avoid confusion. Remember, the choice of liquids or purées you use should be based upon your child’s condition. You need to take into consideration any allergies, phenol sensitivities and sensitivity to sugar.
This is a critical concept to ensure compliance. Parents can reinforce this concept by repeating it in everyday life experiences, such as, first we turn on the water, then we wash our hands. Even a very young child can learn this concept if it’s repeated enough. For more visual learners, an First-Then board is an excellent tool to illustrate the process. Once this concept is understood, you need to use it consistently to ensure the child learns. Next, choose a favorite activity (eating the next meal, watching a video/the TV, favorite toy, blanket, and so on), for the purpose of withholding it until or after the child takes the supplements successfully. It is important to be firm and never waiver on this, because it will ensure that success will come quickly.
This comes in handy when a child needs extra reinforcement. Give your child a reward, which only comes immediately after he or she takes the supplements. Always give lots of praise and hugs as well as one good-tasting reward that they can associate with taking supplements. You have the opportunity to double-down here with a great tasting reward that is good for them, like Barlean’s Omega Swirls.
If you are firm and do not give in over the conditions you have set down, most children will start to comply within 2 to 3 days, because they know that they cannot win the battle. Wait them out for as long as you need to, and when they finally give in and take the supplements, quickly give them praise, the preferred activity and the small reward that is given every time they successfully take their supplements. This positive reinforcement will encourage them to be more willing next time.
Do you have any strategies that you have found to be effective with your child? Leave a comment below and share your knowledge with other parents.
DON’T MISS OUT ON THE NEXT ARTICLE! SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER FOR MORE GREAT ARTICLES AND EXCLUSIVE DISCOUNTS AND PROMOTIONS!
You should always consult with your healthcare practitioner before taking any nutritional supplements. Statements made herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.