How to Tame Your Teen Without Really Trying

18 May


Recently, when I drove my teenage son home from tennis practice, I watched him spend the first half of the ride chugging a 32-ounce root beer and the rest of the drive drumming his palms on the dashboard with such force I feared he’d deploy the dual front airbags. The radio wasn’t even on.

“Next time stay away from sugar, it makes you hyper,” I said. I wasn’t sure whether anyone had actually proven that sugar causes hyperactivity, but as I watched my son ricochet in his seat like a pinball it seemed like a fair assumption. Still, how could I be sure?

I called my friend Brenda, a nurse practitioner. She sent me a link to a YouTube video series, Healthcare Triage, by Aaron Carroll, Professor of Pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine. Carroll tackles the common beliefs about health and the human body and explains healthcare policy, medical research, and answers a lot of frequently asked questions.

I clicked on the link, expecting to hear some random doctor give a boring lecture about sugar causing hyperactivity. Instead, I watched Carroll expertly debunk the myth with the frankness of Dr. Phil, the enthusiasm of Dr. Oz. and the wit of Dr. House. He indicated that numerous studies show sugar doesn’t affect behavior. According to one study, it’s all in the parents’ heads.

While fascinating, it didn’t explain why my son couldn’t keep still after drinking a root beer so again, I turned to the Internet and came across The Straight Dope, an informational website by Cecil Adams, where I learned about a key ingredient found in certain brands of root beer: caffeine. My son’s behavior after drinking a Barq’s root beer suddenly made perfect sense. After all, it doesn’t take an overcaffeinated barista to know that caffeine makes you hyper.

My son hasn’t stopped drumming on the dashboard, and I haven’t stopped nagging him, but at least I have my facts straight now when I say, “Next time stay away from caffeine, it makes you hyper!”

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16 Responses to “How to Tame Your Teen Without Really Trying”

  1. Carrie Rubin May 18, 2015 at 12:27 pm #

    Yep, I’d say you discovered the culprit. 32 oz of soda has no shortage of caffeine. Though I was little at the time, I remember getting the tiny 8 oz Coke bottle out of a machine. Seemed like enough fluid at the time. Wonder why it’s not anymore. And now that I’ve just dated myself, I’ll leave…

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 20, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

      I’d say 8 oz is sufficient. I read that the Double Big Gulp holds about twice the amount of fluid than the average adult human’s stomach. Now that’s a lot of caffeine!

      • Carrie Rubin May 20, 2015 at 12:31 pm #

        And a lot of calories if it’s not diet…

  2. reocochran May 19, 2015 at 6:28 am #

    Suggest a non-caffeinated root beer since sugar may wear off faster. I forget which brand. . . My oldest daughter allows one brand or maybe Croix carbonated water since I tried a pear fruit blend and I like the coconut flavor. Son may still use dash for drum set! 🙂

  3. Kelley Chikos May 22, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

    I used to teach seventh graders. One day after lunch a boy came in and said, “I’m just warning you, I had a lot of sugar at lunch so I’ll probably be pretty hyper today.” I told him I didn’t believe in the power of sugar. He shrugged and said, “Oh, well. It was worth a shot.”

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 23, 2015 at 9:38 am #

      Sounds like he couldn’t pull the wool over your eyes! Thanks for sharing, Kelley!

    • earthriderjudyberman June 28, 2015 at 10:22 pm #

      I’m going to have to try that with my seventh graders this school year. I’ve had the same comments. Some do have the caffeinated drinks – coffee, soda or those power drinks – plus sugar. Believe me, a few could compete with the Tazmanian Devil in a whirling dervish spin off. 😉

  4. Lou May 26, 2015 at 6:56 pm #

    As one of my Gurus, Mary Poppins, once said, ” A spoon full of sugar makes the medical go round, but caffeine wii carpe diem”.

    • Main Street Musings Blog May 28, 2015 at 11:50 am #

      Funny, Mary Poppins and my son have something in common: One needs an umbrella and the other a 32 ounce root beer to fly!

  5. dilip May 31, 2015 at 12:16 pm #

    Parenting teenagers is not easy. Yes it’s wise to identify what food exactly causes such hyperactivity.

  6. earthriderjudyberman June 28, 2015 at 10:25 pm #

    I agree on 8 oz. should be enough. When I’m jonesing for a soda – Pepsi or Barq’s root beer, I really don’t want more than 8 oz. Bring back those smaller sizes in everything and we might yet win the war on the battle of the bulge. 😉

  7. anotherday2paradise August 14, 2015 at 1:59 pm #

    Interesting read, Lisa. My DiL always blames the kids’ bad behaviour on too much sugar. 🙂

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