What's the Right Age: Drinking Coffee

Is coffee just an adult drink, or can kids enjoy it, too?
Is coffee just an adult drink, or can kids enjoy it, too?
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During a family outing to your favorite bookstore, you decide to stop in the café area for a cappuccino. "I want one, too!" your 12-year-old daughter declares.

What should you do? Will all that caffeine make her hyper, and can it really stunt her growth? Will the other adults think you're a bad parent? What age is too young for coffee?

Coffee seems to come in a million different varieties these days, and lots of them get our kids' attention and make their mouths water. The National Coffee Association says that young people are the fastest-growing group of coffee lovers. Yummy coffee drinks seem to be everywhere, and cafés are popping up in bookstores, grocery stores, libraries and even high schools. Even fast food places like McDonald's joined the trend when they recently added the Mocha Frappé to their menu. These blended, coffee-based drinks, topped with whipped cream and drizzled with chocolate syrup, are closer to milkshakes than a regular cup of joe, and they're sure to awaken the appetites of teens, tweens and younger children. TV commercials tell us that we need a boost to get through our busy day, and caffeine offers just the right kick.

But is it alright for a teenager to use coffee to perk up in the morning or to stay up and study for an important test? Can a tween drink mocha lattes to feel sophisticated with friends without causing any harm? Is it perfectly fine to have a cup of coffee every now and then when you're hovering around the teenage years, or are we raising a generation of jittery caffeine junkies with stained teeth?

As more and more kids become coffee fans, more and more parents are wondering what, if anything, to do about it. Many are wondering what age is too young and if it's alright to give in when our child asks to try coffee. To make these decisions, we need to know what effects coffee could have on our children's behavior and health.

What should you do, and why are today's kids so drawn to coffee, anyway? Read on to learn about coffee's appeal.