By Mir
October 26, 2010

It would be wrong to give my perpetually-ass-dragging, non-morning-person 12-year-old a cup of coffee in the morning to see if it helps her navigate the morning routine more than my constant nagging, time checks, and exasperated yelling does, right?

I’m just asking. For, um, fun.


  1. Sally

    Nope. Not wrong. Not at all.

  2. birchsprite

    I’m sure a milky Cappuccino wouldn’t do any harm… It’s an Italian breakfast staple ;)

  3. MeganM

    I figure if they drink any soda at all, a little coffee now and then isn’t going to hurt!

  4. Lisa

    Coffee with lots of milk should be just fine ;o) Anything to help the butt drag!

  5. Frank

    I am sure it is better than many of the alternatives available fairly easily.. such as Red Bull, Jolt, 5 hour Energy type shot drinks, No-DOZ, and worse than I will leave to the imagination. At least you KNOW EXACTLY what she is getting.

  6. Leandra

    Probaby better for her than a swift kick to the tushie! LOL! ;)

  7. Megan

    Perfectly reasonable. Also? If the urban myth is true and it stunts growth then you’ll spend WAY less on replacing out-grown clothes! Two birds, one stone!

  8. Nelson's Mama

    Go ahead judge me. I’ve always given my kids coffee…even in sippy cups.

    I grew up drinking coffee as a child too and it is one of my truest pleasures of life!

  9. Jen

    Give her the coffee. Lots of milk, only a little sweetener. It may just save a life. ;)

  10. Kate

    Nope. A red bull? That would be wrong.

  11. Pam

    I have surely considered that for my non-morning person 4 year old. I believe that is actually a common practice in some Latin American cultures. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

  12. Mare Martell

    My 15 year old son drinks a small pot (2 cups) each morning before school. He’s in a much better mood once it kicks into his system. I, personally, am grateful he does.

  13. BethRD

    12 is right about when circadian rhythms are supposed to change and make it harder for teens to get up in the morning, right? I don’t know, I certainly wouldn’t judge – given the two Diet Cokes and large mug of tea I have already had today that is.

  14. Barbara

    My grandmother started me on coffee when I was in kindergarten – well, ok, so it was hot milk with a small amount of coffee and about three tablespoons of sugar, but by the time I was in junior high I was drinking it black. I don’t think it stunted my growth, my legs go all the way to the floor.

    In two words, permission granted. :-)

  15. MomCat

    Coffee or chai tea are morning staples around here. (Staples in the sense that they hold everything together)

  16. Erin

    I never drank coffee growing up, and I am really short, so I don’t think you need to worry about that! When I was that age, I drank two Mello Yellos (do they even make that anymore) every morning to help with the butt drag. I think

  17. Erin

    ummm….not sure what happened there…

    The rest of my comment:

    I never drank coffee growing up, and I am really short, so I don’t think you need to worry about that! When I was that age, I drank two Mello Yellos (do they even make that anymore) every morning to help with the butt drag. I think that coffee is a much, much better choice than 24 oz of sugary, HFCS laden soda!

  18. Lucinda

    There are worse things you could do. Just because I don’t think I would, especially since neither my husband or i drink coffee ourselves, far be it for me to judge. BUT…my daughter isn’t 12 yet. Who knows what I will consider by then considering she’s not a morning person even now.

  19. Annette

    If anyone else in my house drank coffee, I might try it! Too much effort as it is now:)
    love momcat’s definition of staples!

  20. Mama Bear

    My ADD-Anxiety 12 year old has about 1/2 a cup of seriously creamered-up coffee (that is so a word!) every so often. It is the best thing to settle her in that I have found. Her teachers would LOVE it if I gave coffee to her before the standardized tests (yuck!) they are taking this week.

  21. Kerry

    My just turned 13 year old who LOVES coffee sees a nutritionist who told me that a cup a day is totally fine. In many cultures they don’t even blink an eye at children drinking coffee/tea, and in this culture kids drink caffeinated soda like I drink water, so if she wants a cup in the morning, I would let her have it. :)

  22. JXB

    Huh, I never realized so many folks gave their kids coffee. Who knew? I think I started drinking it at 14, but didn’t like it until years later when I realized you were not a total wimp if you put cream and sugar in it. What about hot chocolate? It has the veneer of being age appropriate but a sugar and minor caffine jolt that might be effective.

  23. Bryn, North Wales, UK

    Speaking as a morning-hater of long standing I would say yes, try her out on a cappuccino or latte brew to start with. I’ve been enjoying a morning coffee or two since I was eight; I’m now 48 with no ill-effects, and the coffee has without a doubt saved more than one life over the years….

  24. Katherine

    I started drinking coffee around 10. We used to use a hot chocolate packet & mix it with coffee instead of hot water. The 10-year-old version of a mocha!

  25. katy in MA

    I can already tell that my 6yo will be a coffee drinker…she steals sips of mine whenever she can! (of course, I like mine with milk & sugar).

    Make cafe au lait by adding coffee to warm milk. Or–my favorite–invest in a cheap aerolatte frother. Froth a little cold milk (skim or lowfat is fine) in a mug, microwave it for 30 seconds, pour in some coffee, sprinkle with cinnamon–and voila! Looks fancy, smells great, has just the perfect kick of caffeine.

  26. Deirdre

    And if coffee doesn’t work, do what I did–told my kids that if they missed the bus, they have to wait until I’m ready to take them to school. After a leisurely breakfast, shower, fixing my hair so it actually looks decent instead of saying, “Eh, whatever,” and tidying up the house . . . before you know they’re over an hour late and you can practically see the steam coming out of their ears. The note with the excuse for being late says, “Child missed the bus and had to wait for the ride to be ready.” I’ve only had to do it once, and that’s not per kid, only once EVER.

  27. Jean

    Nope, I remember being that age and being allowed 1 cup. They drink coke and stuff which has caffeine right?

  28. Anna

    Sure. :) I have homeschooling friends whose ADD kids do a little better with some caffiene.

  29. getsheila

    How about tea? I recommend Darjeeling with milk and sugar. I started young and never graduated to coffee. Maybe she’ll be a tea girl all the way!

  30. Mamadragon

    I have checked with a doctor – coffee does not stunt growth. It’s an old wives’ tale. Give her coffee if it helps your day get off to a better start. I’ve offered it to my kids and they’re all younger than Chickadee. Granted, none of them like it much – but the option is available to them.

  31. Kayt

    I was drinking coffee at her age. My parents always told me that I could have coffee as long as I would drink it black. That meant that I didn’t drink as much as I would have if it was all creamy and sugary, and I just got the caffeine, not unnecessary calories. So yeah, go for it! If nothing else, the warmth this time of year will be comforting.

  32. Karen R.

    Dare I admit that when my 16 year old discovered coffee, his adored and adoring 6 year old sister decided she wanted some also? And came home from school so excited because she was able to finish all of her morning work on time? So she got some coffee every morning.

    Later she was dxed with inattentive ADD, and added meds to her morning coffee, so she could also get her afternoon work done. She is now a successful college senior.

  33. jen

    Coffee has been a standard in my family. I drank milk with a spoon or two of coffee in it from the time I was a toddler. I give my toddler the same when she requests it. I was drinking half milk, half coffee by twelve and went to full coffee with a bit of cream when I was in high school.

  34. karen

    Are you kidding? Compared to the crap most kids eat now a days? And YOU don’t let your kids eat alot of crap. Half a cup in the morning, light and alittle sweet, I say go for it. My 14 year old loves it and NEEDS IT>>> but only alittle now and then.

  35. Heathir

    How about tea?

  36. Heidi D

    It might be kinda fun to watch her bounce off the walls and zoom out the door for school. I’m just sayin’.

    Katherine – awesome idea about mixing a packet of hot chocolate in w/ the coffee! My 10 year-old son once tried some coffee (plain) and loved it! But I wouldn’t mind mixing it in a bit w/ hot chocolate.

  37. Kendra

    Not to be Debbie Downer, but the “after-the-caffeine” crash at school isn’t going to win her any points there. Does she eat breakfast before she gets ready? Maybe that’s just what she needs to get going! And a nice big glass of water…dehydration and low blood sugar in a growing (vegetarian) girl aren’t fun at all.

  38. Mom again

    My mom is of German descent and that was her excuse for an occaisional spoonful of coffee in hot milk as a treat when we were little. Dad disapproved. I’ve drunk coffee most mornings since about middle school. Lots of milk and sugar like dad thioughmom drinks it black.

    I think you were joking but in my experience it’s about when most od us pre *$ generation coffee drinkers began at least occaisionally. Nowadays ithink most high schoolers drink coffee the coffee shops near the high schools are slam full of theminthe morning. I’d
    y youngest had been a coffee dri ker I would have skipped he traffic at the school andjust gone directly for coffee and let her walk from there. Instead it was schol and thenme stopping halfway to work at a lesscrowded shop by the airport.

  39. Katie in MA

    Hypothetically (or, wait, is that theoretically?), I would wait until at least high school before you push that much caffeine. My sister drank a mug of cocoa every morning, but that was to stave off migraines.

    But really – I say go with what works for you. Not judging what I’m not dealing with.

  40. Sara

    I read katy in MA’s comment “sprinkle with cinnamon–and voila!” as: “sprinkle with cinnamon–and vodka!” My first thought was: Dayum! That’s some serious morning coffee! Next thought: Perhaps I read that wrong. Third thought: Perhaps coffee with vodka is what *I* need in the morning.

  41. Kristin

    I say give it a try. There is a convenience store right across the street from my kids’ middle school, and every morning when I drop them off, I see kids toting around giant sodas that they picked up on the way to school. That crap is nothing but empty calories and a bunch of HFCS. Coffee does not stunt growth, it has proven health benefits, and I know it helps ME pry my eyes open in the morning.

  42. suzie

    My 12 year old loves coffee, and I occasionally allow her to have a cup. Then she gets all hyper and crazed, and my husband and 14 yo glare at me.

    It is my 14 yo who needs it more – same slow-moving morning behavior. But she doesn’t like it. She told me she once had a great cup of tea, but doesn’t know what kind it was, and I don’t seem to be able to figure it out.

  43. The Other Leanne

    I didn’t start drinking coffee until I was 23, and all I could think at the time was how much different my life might have been if I had had it ten years earlier.

  44. Ani

    I grew up drinking cafe con leche (translation: espresso lattes) just about every day, starting since I can remember (before kindergarten anyway). Didn’t stunt me in any way…*twitch* *twitch*. Just kidding.

    Mocha morning smoothie? Yum! Like a PP said…think of it as “medicated” calcium + protein. Everything today’s young non-morning person needs.

  45. SillyMe

    I’m thinking that the issue with coffee isn’t the caffeine, but all the sugar and fat (cream) it takes to make it enjoyable to most kids. Everything in moderation, right?

  46. Lara

    Did it work? Hypothetically, I mean …

  47. Joshilyn

    LORD neither of my kids can have caffeine. They rocket to the MOON and ping around screaming and then they fall into comas. There was a COCA-COLA incident that is still legendary…

    I know other kids who do NOT have extreme reactions at all, who get a little boost, and they have coke and tea and lattes all the time. I would, if I were you, attempt this experiment on a SATURDAY, so if your kid is like mine, YOU get the fall out and she doesn’t run right up the wall of the school and dance across the ceiling. :D

  48. Jen

    I have considered this same solution for my own perpetually-ass-dragging, non-morning-person 12-year-old. I have a feeling it wouldn’t help much. I have gone so far as to suggest (only half-jokingly) that he put his clothes on the night before, so he just has to get up and out the door in the morning.

    I mentioned to my mom that I was having this problem, and that I was surely getting myself up and out the door without my parents nagging me by the time I was in middle school. When she finished laughing, she asked if I remembered how often I was tardy in middle school because I wouldn’t get my butt out of bed and out the door. I guess I must have forgotten.

  49. Becky

    I agree with Joshilyn… I was one of those jr. high kids that would grab a can of Dr. Pepper and drink it as I read in bed before I went to sleep. Caffine and sugar did NOTHING for me (but my hips would tell a different story). I would try the half and half (milk and coffee) on a Saturday and see what the outcome is. If it works, you have a solution. If it doesn’t work, well… you know what to expect for the next eight years!

  50. Sheila

    I’m telling you, we are living parallel lives.

    How would you get your kid to actually DRINK the coffee? Because mine is such non-morning person, she can barely open her mouth before eight am.

    Many a morning I have thought that the first researcher to successfully develop a safe, effective time-release capsule we could give our kids at bedtime which would jolt (I mean nudge. Gently, softly, nudge) them awake at the proper hour the next morning might just win a Nobel Prize. For Peace.

  51. Kailani

    I was about eight when I started drinking coffee here and there. And my favorite was iced coffee! I’m not a coffee drinker now, but every once in a while, it sure hits fhe spot. With a balanced breakfast, I don’t see anything wrong with offering her some.

  52. Lisa R.

    My 11 y/o is a latte-loving maniac. It’s one of the things that goes along with Saturday math tutoring and makes him actually anxious to go. A little coffee never hurt anybody!

  53. Paula

    It has worked wonders for my ass dragging soon to be 15 year old son. Nothing like a vanilla latter to solve all early morning conflict.;. Let us know how it goes!

  54. Amy

    I got to have coffee on special occasions starting when I was 4. Which really it was milk with a tiny bit of coffee in it, but still, COFFEE!!! So, I’d say that one cup of coffee it the morning would probably be okay. It would probably be healthier than drinking a soda. At least you can get organic coffee. So do it, do it! (I’m a bad influence though, even Milo begs for my coffee in the morning)

  55. Jean

    Being married to an Irish native and having travelled to visit his family in Ireland many times, I can tell you that almost every child I’ve ever met over there is drinking mugs of tea by the time they are about three or so. Sure it has milk and probably sugar in it, but it doesn’t seem to do them any harm. And tea HAS been shown to have plenty of caffeine in it. If not coffee, try tea.

    Good luck.

  56. Dawn

    But Good for Girls

    A new report has discovered that drinking 3 cups of coffee daily can help forestall ovarian cancer in girls. A gang of global analysts has carried out the study and revealed that ladies who take caffeine identical to 3 cups of coffee common-or-garden are not as likely to develop ovarian cancer later in life.

    “We noted a major inverse trend of ovarian cancer risk with caffeine intake. The reasons why caffeine protects against ovarian cancer isn’t clear and further studies will be carried out,” lead analyst Shelley Tworoger of Harvard Medical Faculty wrote in the ‘Cancer’ book.

    Read more: http://www.projectswole.com/healthy-lifestyle/drink-coffee-to-keep-your-brain-and-body-healthy/#ixzz13Unojqzr

    It is also listed as a top 5 brain food. http://www.brainready.com/blog/thetop5brainhealthfoods.html

    Question is: can you get her to drink it? Will she like it?

  57. StephLove

    My 9 y/o has always been a morning person. Unless that changes in the teen years, I don’t think I will let him drink coffee until he’s in college. He’s already bouncing off the walls while the rest of us are yawning. Now my 4 y/o is a sleepy little thing when she wakes up. I could see giving her a little tea when she’s C’s age, to help get her going.

  58. Heather

    You could start with caffeinated tea, like orange pekoe, or even green tea, and then switch up to coffee if those don’t work? (If you’d like a more graduated approach heh.) I don’t think a little café au lait is going to hurt your girl ;-)

  59. Sara

    I’ve been drinking coffee in the morning since I was wee — it started out as mostly warmed milk with a dash of coffee for flavor, crossed over to coffee with milk around the start of high school, and is now strong, black, and hot as I can make it. :)

    If that seems too extreme, go for a slightly less-caffeine-bomb option, and make her cocoa.

  60. Karate Mom

    OHMYGOODNESS! How could you even CONSIDER that? I’m aghast. I mean, it might stunt her growth or cause her to grow chest hair!
    Totally kidding.
    I think that it would be okay, maybe with milk or something to make it less strong.

  61. Lori N

    Considering that I used to eat Mocha Almond Fudge ice cream in the mornings before high school in order to make it to my 7am class (Hi Mom! if you’re reading this!) I’m firmly on the side that a little coffee can be a good thing! (or perhaps it was the sugar? either way, it worked! *grin* )

    I have kids, I’ve given up judging other people :)

  62. E's Mommy

    How about starting with tea if she likes it? Doesn’t that have less caffeine than a cup of coffee? I had to quit the caffeine because it not only keep me awake way past my bed time (even if I drink it in the morning) but it makes me really anxious. I’m generally somewhat anxious anyway so it took me awhile to figure that one out. Soda/tea/coffee directly correlate to my thinking that The Sky! It is FALLING! And we are all going to DIIIIIIEEEEE!!!! So maybe watch for that with her if you give it to her. But yes, as a fellow non-morning person and mother of another non-morning person I would definitely give caffeine in some form a try.

  63. BethRD

    Oooh, now that I’ve read the comment about the Mocha Almond Fudge ice cream every morning I may not be able to start my mornings any other way.

  64. Nelson's Mama

    Mir, now after several have chimed in and confessed, I’ll tell you that at the age of two, my daughter would sleepily stagger out of her bedroom, (just like an old man nursing a hangover) and say in her funny, raspy voice: “Mommy, you make coppy yet?”

  65. Kate Setzer Kamphausen

    Kendra: my personal experience as a lifelong and late-diagnosed hypoglycemic is that it isn’t the after-the-caffeine crash that sucks as much as the after-the-sugar crash. If she drinks the coffee black (or, of course, has sugar WITH her protein, whatever forms those two items may come in), she should be okay.

  66. KMayer

    you haven’t tried it already? what gives?

  67. navhelowife

    I’d say tea, hot chocolate, coffee, whatever she likes best. I’m thinking it won’t really be the caffeine so much as the warm liquid that is a pick me up.
    And it might make her feel more ‘grown up’.
    I started coffee in middle school, but had been drinking tea for as long as I can remember, so it really wasn’t that big of a jump!

  68. Gigi

    Why are you even thinking abou it? Just go for it and then tell us how it went :)

  69. Reb

    Don’t sweeten it. Much better for her teeth if she develops a life-long liking for sugar-free drinks.

    I can’t remember when I started drinking coffee, but by the time I was 15ish I was on about a liter a day. I’m still alive. :-D

  70. jadine

    My 13 year old announced that he should have coffee in the morning because it’s so hard for him to wake up and go to school. I said fine, he doctored it with sugar and milk after the first sip of it black. He had one cup each morning for 3 days, decided he loathed it (I knew he would), and that was the end of that. Not sure how I would have reacted to the idea had I not rightly anticipated the outcome. I’m hard-pressed to think of a hugely compelling reason for her not to…but I’m sure others can (I haven’t read the comments). Let us know what happens :)

  71. Flea

    I’d be the wrong person to ask. Hypothetically. I started drinking coffee at age two, as did each of my kids. We’re all ADD, so we call it self-medicating.

  72. Julie Stiles Mills

    If you’re uncomfortable with coffee, Crystal Light makes two mixes with caffeine: “Focus” is orange flavored and about 40 miligrams. “Energy” is strawberry flavored. My 15 year old and my 10 year old can have coffee if they want it, but they never really want very much.

  73. tiffany

    my 11 yr old drinks it…if it helps her get moving in the morning then so be it!

  74. Ingrid

    Do it! Who knows – morning coffee consumption might become the latest mother-daughter bonding ritual!

  75. jen

    i give my 8 year old tea in the morning. but we live in china- land of tea and she doesn’t like coffee. it helps her non morning self be much more pleasant. a lot of the kids in her class have tea in their water bottles and drink it all day long…

  76. Lise

    I’d maybe work on raising and stabilizing her blood sugar in the mornings. A small glass of juice when she first wakes up, to raise her blood sugar enough to get her out of bed. And then a protein-heavy breakfast to keep her going. I’ve found that when I’m really dragging in the morning, it helps to eat breakfast before going through that weary slog of shower/dressing/primping. (Oh, the agony of having to spend five minutes applying makeup. Woe is me.)

  77. JennyM

    Well, seems to me like it’s about time for some coffee. For me, I mean. I say go for it.

  78. Elena

    My 13 year old son has ADD, medication makes no difference in his grades so he’s not on meds. But oh, the difference an Amp energy drink or a Mountain Dew Voltage soda at lunchtime (even a few sips with breakfast before school) makes!!! NIGHT AND DAY :))) Whatever works, you should work it, and if that’s some coffee, hey, all the latest studies show that it takes teens & tweens a minimum of six months to segue from caffeine to shooting up that nice heroin….hehehe.

  79. mamaspeak

    FYI–my husband has ADD, diagnosed as an adult, but absolutely had it all his life. He has told me that caffeine has the opposite affect on people w/ADD. If you give your ADD kid some coffee, soda, etc…it will probably make them stop bouncing their leg in class. Yeah, it’s that good.

    If you think coffee is an issue, try tea. Isn’t tea more caffeinated than coffee anyway? I’m not a morning person myself, and I have (normal, but) low blood pressure. My Dr has put me on caffeine (soda or coffee, my choice) more than once in my life. Some of us NEED more caffeine in our diets. Crazy, huh?

  80. Beth

    I used to give my older daughter (who was extremely cranky and slow-moving in the mornings) about 1/2 a mug of coffee with milk and sugar starting in elementary school. It really did help her get going. She always liked coffee anyway. I don’t think it was any worse than drinking soda, and the coffee definitely contained a lot less sugar. Now that my daughter is in college, she tries not to have a lot of caffeine. She drinks chai and other kinds of tea instead of coffee.

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