Coffee and ADHD kids: Failure to Caffeinate?

Anissa Ford's picture

Physicians won't recommend coffee to curb a child's adhd symptoms, but why are caffeinated sodas and energy drinks in the clear?

Physicians randomly recommend increasing a child's caffeine intake in a regular day via a caffeinated drink like soda or, perhaps an energy drink. This recommendation usually comes over increasing a child's stimulant prescription dosage.

While the American Academy of Pediatrics hasn't issued a statement on ADHD, caffeine and small children, certain segments of the medical community disagree with coffee for children. Yet, parents of children with ADHD deal with temper tantrums, racing thoughts, racing children, self-inflicted injury and a host of other bizarre behaviors that can be reduced with stimulants. Most ADHD children take their medication in the morning.

Even with a morning dose, by afternoon many adhd kids are up and at it again. For many parents, increased doses of the usual prescription meds are not the antidote. Doctors may recommend caffeinated drinks, soda or energy drinks in the afternoon to curb a child's afternoon ADHD relapse. However, sodas activate an already hyper child's bladder creating more problems in the classroom and at home with keeping still and focused during sustained periods. Moreover, caffeinated drinks with their starchy corn syrups are hazardous on a growing child's teeth.
The stimulants in coffee, the choice drink of Americans in the morning, many who swear by it, are similar to those found in Ritalin. Adderall, Strattera, Concerta are all medicines, all stimulants, prescribed to children of ADHD.

When "The Stir" blogger, Christine Haskell revealed that she gives her ADHD second grader coffee each morning before school, she was invited by ABC Morning News to share her story. Did Haskell reveal a secret that ADHD parents into alternative therapy have had for a while?

Some doctors are cautioning against coffee in children. In fact, one doctor went as far as to suggest that children who have "real, bonafide" cases of ADHD won't find treatment, cure or therapy with caffeine. Doctors also say that caffeine can lead to other side effects like higher blood pressure, increased heart rates, and headaches.

But here's the thing: like any drug, if high blood pressure, headaches (chronic or otherwise) and heart conditions and ailments are hereditary, naturally a parent would think twice about supplying an alternative stimulant like coffee to treat ADHD behaviors.

But for the most part, the resistance to coffee sounds like adults are uncomfortable with some children doing grown-up things. Even if it works.

Furthermore, just as no two autistic children are completely alike just because they've been diagnosed with autism, no two ADHD children are bound to have the exact same behaviors or the exact same reaction to stimulant meds. Many, many children clearly suffering with ADHD symptoms do not have positive reactions to the leading ADHD medicinal options like Ritalin and Adderall.

More than likely, Haskell's reveal that her son performs satisfactorily, if not excellently with a cup of coffee each morning, just like many adults, is perhaps, a secret jumped out of the bag for many parents of ADHD children.

It doesn't take a medical degree to understand and calculate the odds and the risks of coffee over soda to reduce ADHD symptoms. The minute a physician suggests that a caffeinated, albeit unhealthy drink like soda, may alleviate a child's symptoms most parents logically consider coffee, whether they reveal it to the physician or not.

At the end of the day, parents of ADHD children want their child in school a full day without interruption. An alternative treatment like coffee, used by more than millions around the world each day, logically renders a viable option that benefits certain affected children, their classmates, teachers and parents.


Submitted by Big Red Boots (not verified) on
The reason might be in the dosage. Soft drinks and even envergy drinks have a much lower amount of caffeine than a cup of coffee. Most popular energy drinks contain about 80mg per can, or 160mg in a bigger cup. A similar sized coffee could have over twice that much. Seeing as a coke has a mere 35mg of caffeine, this might be a dose which kids could take without experiencing all the stuff that most of us grownup coffee drinkers have to deal with.

Submitted by kshannon (not verified) on
My son, who is now 23, was diagnosed with ADHD when he was in 1st grade. I tried the drug route and it only turned him into a zombie. I did not like my son being a zombie. So I took him off the meds, against doctors orders. A friend told me about coffee. I said, "Hey it can't be any worse than the drugs" so at 7 years of age i gave my son a cup of coffee. It made such a difference. He was able to focus in school, he was much better behaved (still not a angel but better), people actually liked having him around. I am now a teacher of students with special needs. Many of my students have ADHD. One student, we will call him Tom, this year was so hyper there was no way he could his work. He also has violent tendencies. I spoke with his mother the first chance I got and after listening to the story about this childs' life (and it has been horrible) I decided to talk to mom about coffee because the drugs were not working. A few days later, I picked up my students from the lunch room. Tom as line leader. As we were walking out a little girl past in front of Tom and dropped her straw. Tom reach down and picked it up for her and she thanked him, he said "your welcome". For Tom this was a HUGE change. Once back in the classroom Tom sat in his seat, he was doing his work, helping others, helping me, a PERFECT student. When I asked him what had changed, he responded, "mom gave me coffee this morning like you suggested". He was so good that after class I called his mom to tell her how great he had been. She almost cried. She had never received a good report on him. So you see coffee does work. I think the doctors are working with the drug companies and want to keep our children drugged up and dependent on them.

Submitted by Jennifer (not verified) on
Does it matter what type of coffee you give them? Should I give it to my child just black no sugar? and how much should you give them? Thank you.

Submitted by Kshannon (not verified) on
Jennifer, I just saw your message. Fred, my son, liked it black with sugar. Of course I didn't let him empty the sugar bowl into the coffee, but a reasonable amount was ok.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Kshannon---great story about the kid with ADHD, I too give my son, (he is in high school) coffee. In fact, he asks for it. I used to think he was lazy and inconsiderate. It's not that. He's not a bad ADHD case, but borderline. Enough to get on a parent's nerves (clothes backwards, sloppy handwriting) inattentive to details. It's my goal to get him to college. It's not in the pharm co's best interest to prescribe coffee. also that's a good point about the energy drinks having less caffeine than coffee. I do think that really hyper kids will need meds AND coffee. mild cases, just coffee. But it does work wonders in kids who are trained to behave but have a hard time

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
I am a parent of a 6 year old girl, she a sweet heart very playful, friendly and talkative. recently shes been getting herself into all kinds of trouble at school. I took her to a theraptist that recomended getting her tested which I havent done as yet . this morning I tried the coffee remedy for the first time. I am hoping that it works.

Submitted by Seattle_Dad (not verified) on
My wife and I already have a child we can't control, so logically we decided to have another. Little Jacob is 6 months old, but already shows the classic signs of ADHD; Lack of focus, tantrums, violent thrashing of limbs(sometimes we have to restrain him on long car rides)... When my wife became pregnant, we knew almost instantly our fetus was suffering from ADHD, for it too was showing all the classic signs; Ignoring directions, lack of intrest, even kicking my wife from the inside at times... Well when our unborn child began acting out violently against his mother's womb, that's when we decided to turn to Google for help. Within 3 minutes, we were able to locate someone claiming to be a doctor who also claimed to have kids who claimed that coffee cured them of their lack of attention! Needless to say, my wife started the coffee regime immediately and saw instantaneous results with our unruly fetus! With just two daily turkey basters of Starbucks lowfat vanilla latte(with whipped cream and caramel), little fetus jr. hasn't kicked his mother once; We think it even helps him concentrate, because instead of rolling around all the time, fetus jr. is perfectly still, 24 hours a day(we surmise he's doing his homework)! If life for us in America couldn't get any more fabulous; We just heard that next year, Starbucks will be unveiling their very own line of coffee douches AND children's intravenous espresso in all your favorite flavors!!! Hopefully by the end of 2012, every parent in America will have the common sense to have self diagnosed their children with something awful and medicate them every hour of the day and night until they can afford to self medicate... God bless corporate America...

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
hopefully, you will be blessed enough to never have the heartache and frustration of an ADHD child. People reach for help, and I for one feel better about a small cup of coffee in the morning for my 10 year old, rather than giving him kid crack, or ritalin as some people call it. Lets hope you never have a real problem with your kids since you think it is ok to make such a mokery of people searching for real answers. God bless you and your family.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Freaking hilarious. So heartache and frustration doesn't come with the job of parenthood? Guiding a new life as they learn about everything is supposed to be easy now? I am a child of the ADHD generation, so of course my mom hopped on the wagon. A kid with lots of extra energy and doesn't pay attention? Really wow, what are the odds... It's cool, just keep blessing people and going to church and I'm sure God will start getting things right again eventually... I mean, people used to live for a few hundred years in the bible, growing old without ailments; They'd just live a nice shiny life and then drop dead(at least that's how the bible tells it). Anyhoo it's been fun church lady. Tell your poor, poor, Attention Deficit child that I feel his pain... Just make sure to repeat it over and over again in a nagging tone, otherwise the attention-deficitness won't let him hear you.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
Dear Seriously, Its clear your Mom either didnt teach you manners or you need a cup of coffee which one is it ? You CLEARLY have something wrong with you and you dont know what your talking about and never experienced what its like to have a ADHD child !


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