Back when my middle daughter was 7 or 8 years old, she took a sip of my iced coffee and got hooked on the taste. She begged me to drink coffee and while I was hesitant to let her take more than a few sips, the older she got, the less it bothered me. Around age 9 or 10, I began to order her the occasional small decaf and she was thrilled.
Once in a while usually at a family function, I’d let her drink regular coffee and she never had any bad repercussions, other than glares from nosy family members. If anything, my normally hyper daughter became relaxed and content, which I assumed was just a byproduct of feeling a little grown up and enjoying the treat. I never thought about any physical benefits of caffeine on a hyperactive child.
So when I stumbled upon a post by a fellow mom that regularly gives her second grade son coffee, I not only read with interest, but I had an Aha moment, too:
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.
Caffeine does certainly seem to calm my daughter down, always has. While the mom confesses that another study suggested caffeine has no effect on children with ADHD, I agree with her that I don’t see coffee as a bad thing for kids. My daughter has always enjoyed the taste of coffee and now at 14, when I get a coffee, she gets one, too. She’s certainly not addicted but enjoys it just as I do.
A cup of generic brewed coffee has anywhere from 95-200 grams of caffeine which is less than many energy drinks. It’s also the equivalent of a couple of cans of cola, yet many people who regularly down soda have no problems with its caffeine. Oddly enough, I would much rather my child sip on an iced coffee than a soda.
In the end, it all comes down to a personal choice. Sure, many might be horrified at the thought of their child consuming coffee, but for me, it’s no big deal. And coffee has actually been known to have some health benefits. Coffee drinkers are less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia, and have fewer cases of certain cancers, heart rhythm problems, and strokes.
My kids all drank tea as babies too, especially when they were sick. Tea remains a soothing warm drink in our home, perfectly suited for a headcold, a disappointment or a tired morning. But when we feel like a going on a coffee run, we all get a drink. My 8-year-old might take a sip or two but doesn’t want his own cup.
But if he did, I’d let him.
Is coffee strictly for adults in your home? Have you ever let your kids drink coffee? How about soda? What drinks are off limits for your kids?
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