Despite many of us parents letting kids have soda, coffee for kids often still has a really bad stigma. It actually has some health benefits, and often has equal or even less caffeine than certain colas. That said, I actually don't let my 7-year-old have soda, except the occasional natural sugar root beer. However, he does drink coffee with breakfast every morning, and often has a small cup with his after school snack.
And the thing is, I'm not alone. Amongst my friends and moms across the country (and world), there are kids as young as 3 who are drinking some Joe along with Mommy. Why? It might not be what you think ...
Not that long ago, many, MANY kids were on Ritalin and so many kids were diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. That's the diagnosis I'm afraid my son would get if we dragged him in to a doctor and talked about behavioral concerns. He gets hyper, can't sit still or focus, bugs the crap out of people and generally can't. Stop. PICKING at everyone and everything.
Except, well, Ritalin? Not exactly a shining success story. In fact, not at all. But what it does is, well, it's a stimulant. Sounds weird for hyperactivity, right? But it increases blood flow to the brain, and helps people focus and process information more quickly. And stimulants in people with ADHD? It actually calms them down.
One hundred mg of caffeine actually accomplishes a lot of the same things as 5mg of Ritalin ... but obviously, without many of the potential risks. However, of course, too much caffeine can have a bad effect on anyone, but especially susceptible little bodies. No one is suggesting you go get your kid a venti mocha latte with extra espresso. And the Mayo Clinic says:
Some studies suggest that high doses of caffeine combined with methylphenidate [Ritalin] may be more effective in treating [ADHD] than methylphenidate alone. Like methylphenidate, caffeine is a stimulant. However, too much caffeine also can cause insomnia, nervousness, irritability and increased heart rate. Because of their smaller body size, children are even more susceptible to these effects than adults are. For these reasons, most pediatricians discourage caffeine consumption in children. Caffeine is not recommended as a treatment for ADHD in children.
So, just to be clear, we're not exactly following doctor's orders here. One study looked at four kids WITHOUT ADHD and said it wasn't beneficial. Um ... yeah. We're not talking about every kid here either. However, with limited, low-milligram amounts, monitoring our kid's reactions to the caffeine, a lot of moms, in growing numbers, are starting to see really positive results with just a little cup of Joe for our kids. Some moms use little, low milligram caffeine tablets, especially for kids who hate the taste of coffee.
I know there's still skeptics, and people who think it's irresponsible as crap, and that's okay. You don't have to like it. But at my wit's end, I was amazed when after ordering a tall latte for my kid at Starbucks (and being asked if I knew it had caffeine), my mom commented on how, "He actually sat down next to me, calmly. He hadn't done that before." That's proof enough for me that this is the right choice for my family. So maybe reign in your glares if you see my kid with a Starbuck's cup? K, thanks.
Have you ever given your kid coffee? What do you think about it being used to quell hyperactivity?
Image via chichacha/Flickr