Health, Food & Nutrition

Why My Kids Drink…(Wait For It)…COFFEE

Is mixing caffeine and ADHD a smart idea? Can parents really treat ADHD symptoms with coffee? One mother says yes.

Cup of coffee has caffeine and ADHD people use it as a stimulant that can help people focus
Cup of coffee has caffeine and ADHD people use it as a stimulant that can help people focus

Most right-thinking adults will agree that coffee is a terrible thing for kids with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD). Surely caffeine and ADHD don’t mix! Kids don’t need what adults need — a crutch to wake up, an afternoon pick-me-up, a kickstart for the mind, or an excuse for a “special moment” with a friend. Kids need to run around, nap, and get to bed on time. But the world of ADHD is an inside-out one, where “up” is sometimes “down” and “in” is sometimes “out.”

And from where I sit, I can count at least three ways coffee is great for kids.

#1: When COFFEE Is an Acronym

On a long summer days and longer cold vacation days trapped inside, our house rule is to do the following each day:
· Do a Chore
· Do something Outside
· Do something Fun
· Fix something that is broken or needs attention
· Get some Exercise
· Eat some healthy food

Obviously, these things — Chore, Outside, Fun, Fix, Exercise, and Eat — can overlap — when you are washing the car you are doing a Chore Outside and having Fun while doing it. Or when you take a picnic bike ride with a friend who has a broken heart you are Fixing something, getting Exercise, and Eating.

#2: When It’s Coffea Cruda

Many kids with an ADHD diagnosis have trouble sleeping. For them, here is a homeopathic remedy called Coffea Cruda (#CommissionsEarned), which is made from unroasted coffee beans. Homeopathy being a hair-of-the-dog remedy, Coffea Cruda does the opposite of what coffee does: It calms you down when you are jangled.

I take Coffea Cruda (it comes in little white sugar pellets that dissolve under your tongue) in the middle of the night when my heart is beating fast because I drank coffee at a dinner party. My little guy, from about age 9 or 10, self-administers this remedy (it’s very safe) on nights when his thoughts race like sports cars in his head as he lies there in the dark. For us, Coffea Cruda is one of those mythical “magic bullets.”

[Free Guide: What to Eat (and Avoid) for Improved ADHD Symptoms]

I have talked about this remedy of ADHD and caffeine in other places, and have gone 10 rounds with strangers who have argued with me and insulted me for my stupidity. Some don’t “believe” in homeopathics, which is their prerogative. But, for us, it works.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends treating ADHD in children and adolescents aged 6 to 18 with FDA-approved medications, plus parent training in behavior modification and behavioral classroom interventions. Various research studies have found that “stimulant medications are most effective, and combined medication and psychosocial treatment is the most beneficial treatment option for most adult patients with ADHD.” All ADHD treatment decisions should be made in consultation and coordination with a licensed medical provider.

#3: When It’s Actually Coffee

The first time I heard a friend say coffee calmed down her hyperactive son, I couldn’t believe it. She never struck me as a crazy person, but that was just, well, crazy. Then I saw the results. And then there was another, equally sane friend, whose diagnosed son also drank coffee. When I finally began learning about ADHD, I understood that stimulants have a calming effect on ADHD brains. (One doctor told me that people with ADHD who take cocaine calm down!)

And then there are the ADHD-PI (Primarily Inattentive) kids, who have a hard time getting their brains to turn on sometimes. In these cases, coffee works like coffee does for most adults.

This is where I tell the embarrassing parenting story about how I taught my son to drink coffee in high school, mixing it bit by bit with his morning cocoa, because he had to be at school by 8:30. But that was part of him becoming an adult and learning to use the delicious crutches that nature (and Starbucks) gives to those who need the stimulation of mainstream coffee culture.

In other words, you might want to think twice about giving up coffee for New Year’s — it might be just what you (or your child) needs.

[All Natural Ways to Focus Better with ADHD]

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9 Comments & Reviews

  1. Well since coffee cruda as you describe it is homeopathic and just a sugar pellet it’s only use is as a placebo. Homeopathy has been debunked universally as nothing but sugar pill placebos. But if a placebo works for you then by all means use it.

  2. As a doctoral level clinician who was dx with ADHD in childhood and who has been assessing and treating ADHD for many years, I have serious concerns about this article. It is a well established fact that caffeine does not help with concentration and attention, but does lead to increased hyperactivity, racing thoughts and increased anxiety. This is not the way to help someone with ADHD. Believe me. Many years in graduate school running on coffee have proved this to me on a personal level. Many years treating clients with ADHD has also confirmed it. Coffee may keep you awake and energized, but I cannot see any clinical benefits to ADHD symptoms and the opposite seems far more likely.

  3. PsychDoc72 I beg to differ with you Though I wasnt documented til I was 68 a few years ago I was the last of 12 children. My parents seemed to know a little about this condition with children as they started to give me cups of it when i was 3 or 4 years old in the middle of the night when my father returned from work. Liberally blessed with milk and a bit of sugar i loved it and it calmed me down enough for sleep.
    I have always used it to the extent I was drinking 2 to 3 litres of it at the peak of my earning years from age 40 to 60. Usually my last was around 930 at night. Yes i fell to sleep usually before my head hit the Pillow and woke up refreshed 7-8 hours later to start my day again.

    After retirement I began to use decafe with wild results . I couldnt get to sleep and if i did and woke up I couldnt get back to sleep. Several years of this and we finally found out I was Adhd.

  4. Agreeing with Donsense – I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 50 (and my teenager had just been diagnosed). I have always been a coffee addict – just before diagnosis I was drinking the equivalent of 25 normal strength coffees a day and that was not the highest amount of my life. If I couldn’t concentrate on something I would go and make a strong coffee, add cold water and swig it back -in a way I now realise was like taking medicine. My version of ‘needing a coffee’ is different to most other peoples. I didn’t drink coffee to wake up if I felt tired because it didn’t work. I could drink coffee as a bedtime drink. Since diagnosis and going on medication my caffeine intake reduced drastically – down to between 4 and 8 normal strength cups a day. I looked it up and caffeine has looked at as an ADHD medication, just isn’t as effective as prescribed medications. Recently I stopped taking my medication – (mainly because of the Covid situation and difficulty of being monitored) – I am still working from home and reading this article made me realise that my caffeine intake has been gradually increasing to about 16-18 cups a day…
    The other readily available stimulant looked at as a possible treatment is nicotine. I am a nicotine addict as well. (Although I now vape rather than smoke cigarettes – and on medication I was vaping less). I tried to stop smoking several times and failed. I definitely had a strong psychological addiction as well as physical. The first cigarette I had made me feel calm, peaceful, it cleared my brain -hooked fro first cigarette. (so nothing to do with feeling calm because your craving has been relieved). After 6 hours or so I would have cravings but I would also get desperate and scared, I couldn’t cope with life without nicotine. I would start crying and not be able to stop.
    I have warned my teen about not even trying smoking and why – how they might be more susceptible to quickly becoming seriously addicted.

  5. I don’t know if you will ever read this but I wanted to thank you for this article. I always said coffee fixes more things than it breaks for some of us. I have been cutting back on caffeine because it is supposed to aggravate acid reflux, which I hardly notice most of the time. Most of all I am excited about trying the homeopathic you recommended. I can’t believe I didn’t know about this. I have used them before but never associated my symptoms with coffee. Duh! I was too focused on using nux vomica for my overindulgences! Thanks again.

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