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.
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, 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.”
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.
#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.
Updated on January 20, 2020