A Parent’s Guide to Sleepovers

When it comes to sleepovers, the goal is to create a safe and fun environment for kids to be kids. We hope this guide provides some practical advice and helpful tips to consider as you think about sending your child to a sleepover or hosting one at your own home. Before you make your decision, here are a few things you can do:

Make space for your child to say no.
Before anything else, check in with your child to see how she is feeling about the sleepover. Our kids have better instincts than we often give them credit for, so if they are hesitant or show concern about going, honor that.

Even if a situation is perfectly safe, your child may be hesitant for a social reason. Ask about the friend dynamics and make sure your child actually wants to spend a whole night with the kids at the party. Make sure your child knows she can “blame” it on you as an escape route. By doing this, it allows your child to avoid some social pressure or even teasing.

Evaluate if your child is ready.
Even if your child seems very excited about a sleepover, she may not be ready for a night away from Mom and Dad. If your child has difficulty getting to sleep, regularly comes into your room at night, or often wets the bed, it’s likely not yet time for a sleepover.

Just like you need to trust your child’s gut, it’s important for you to trust your own gut as well. If your child is not ready but wants to be, build up to friend sleepovers by having a sibling “sleepover” in the living room or a night at Grandma’s house without Mom or Dad.

Connect with the host family.
Before sending your child to another home for a sleepover, make direct contact with the parents. While there are many wonderful families out there, the old adage rings true that you are better safe than sorry. When you contact the host parents, you have the opportunity to ask who will be in the home (guests or other family members), how the parents plan to supervise, or any other questions you may have.

Discuss expectations and rules.
Whether you’re hosting the sleepover or sending your child to another home, have a discussion about what should be expected and what you expect from your child. Being very clear about rules, boundaries, and expectations helps your child feel more confident going into the sleepover.

Create and practice a plan of action.
Especially with a larger group sleepover, it may be difficult for your child to find a private space to tell you that she’s feeling unsafe or uncomfortable at the sleepover. Some kids may even have difficulty putting those uneasy feelings into words. To make it easier, talk about what this might look like. Make sure your child knows what to look out for and how to react in the case of inappropriate touching, conversation, or activity. With older children, have a conversation about peer pressure and being brave enough to say “no.”

What rules do you have in place for your kids when it comes to sleepovers? Share with us your thoughts in the comments!

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