Steps for Successful Sleepovers

By: Jolene Roehlkepartain

How can you make a sleepover a successful experience for your child? It all depends on your child’s age and the steps you take to ensure a good experience. Read more >

A sleepover is a step toward independence. Having your child go to another person’s house and spend the night away from home takes courage.

Guidelines for Parents of toddlers:
For children under the age of six, spending the night at a grandparent’s, aunt or uncle’s, or another extended family member’s house is a signal that your child is growing up, it’s also a great segue into spending the night over at non-relative’s homes.

Some kids love sleepovers while others avoid them. It depends on the child and how the child feels about being away from home. Don’t push your child into going to a sleepover when he or she isn’t ready. That will only backfire. If your child has been invited to a friend’s birthday sleepover and wants to go to some of the party but not the sleepover, it’s okay to pick up your child part way through the party. I’ve done it a number of times.

At what age, if ever, do you think sleepovers are appropriate? Take our poll >

Guidelines for Parents of school-aged kids:
Some kids can’t seem to get enough of sleepovers. They want to have them on school nights, on multiple nights in a row, and in large groups. Think through what’s acceptable to you about sleepovers and what’s not. In our home, it was okay to attend a sleepover on a weekend night but not on other nights of the week. School nights were for getting homework done and getting a good night’s sleep.

Set clear boundaries about how often sleepovers should occur.Keep in mind that most kids tend not to sleep much at sleepovers! They’re more like stay-up-all-night events. Getting shortchanged on sleep once a week is a lot for a child, even if the child is an older teenager.

Learn more about kids and sleep >

Even though I was never a big fan of sleepovers, I often felt more comfortable having kids spend the night at our home than at other people’s homes. Whenever my child got invited for a sleepover at another child’s home, I always met the parents before I made the decision whether or not to say yes to the sleepover. My kids never liked this policy of mine. They thought I was being overly protective and controlling, but it’s important to ensure that your child will be safe and will be monitored through the night.

Guidelines for parents of teens:
As kids get older and get driver’s licenses, it’s essential to be clear about what’s appropriate for sleepovers and what’s not. Older teenagers can spend the night driving around town when you think they’re sleeping at someone’s house, or they may be out toilet papering someone’s home or even spending the night with a boyfriend or girlfriend. (Older teenagers can be very convincing when explaining that they’re going to do one thing when they’re actually planning to do something else.)

In my own experience, I learned a tough lesson when (through another parent) I discovered that one of the places where my son liked to sleepover was a place where parents didn’t monitor the kids at night and they were out roaming the neighborhoods. As I dug into this situation, I also discovered that the boy who hosted the sleepover often had three sleepovers in a row: on Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday night. This same boy often was too tired and too sick to go to school during the first half of the school week.

Learn more about sleep in different ages and stages >

When I told my son that he was welcome to invite this boy to our house for sleepovers (instead of going to this boy’s house for sleepovers), he was furious. Didn’t I trust him? How could I do this to him? I calmly stated that we hadn’t had our turn to host the sleepover and that I really wanted the boys at our home.

This friend never came to our house for a sleepover. The sleepovers at this boy’s house stopped for my son, and gradually, my son began hanging out with a different friend. Thankfully, he found a friend who had parents who kept an eye on their kids like I did.

So, when your child starts pestering you to have a sleepover, be clear about what you expect. A successful sleepover works great when kids have a good time, have caring parents who monitor them well, and also create ways for kids to catch up on their sleep after the sleepover ends.

Tell Us:——> What are your sleepover strategies?
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Sources:

1. Discipline, ParentFurther, http://www.parentfurther.com/discipline-values/discipline.

2. Image via Doogstaon Flick’r.

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