I recently made the acquaintance of Leslie Baker, the “mom behind the keyboard” at Super Mom Picks, a parenting tips, ideas, and product reviews blog. She is the mother of three young children and we were talking about the appropriate age for sleepovers. It seems like ages since my kiddos had their first sleepovers but I remember how exciting that age was. I am happy to have Leslie share her tips today on how to know if your child is ready for the first sleepover! I think you will find her questions to ask yourself very helpful.
The First Sleepover
Perhaps, like me, you remember your very first sleepover. Excitement and fear mixed together to make your first social cocktail of anxiety. Maybe your first sleepover was like mine – pure excitement knowing your night will be filled with friends, movies, silly kids songs, and special food a friend’s mom made JUST to cater to young taste buds.
Your own experiences with sleepovers can influence your choices. They may help you decide when your children are ready for the big milestone first sleepover. Milestones in parenting can bring excitement or tears. Sometimes it’s challenging to know when it is the right time to allow our children to have new privileges.
We ask ourselves many questions. Are they ready? Are we ready? However, we already know there are no perfect answers in parenting. All children are different and all parents are comfortable at different times. Generally, children start wanting to have sleepovers when they first have a good friend. This can be as soon as preschool, but as late as junior high.
If your child is asking to go to his or her first sleepover you might be wondering if it’s the right time. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you in making the decision.
6 Questions To Ask Yourself To See If Your Child Is Ready For Their First Sleepover
Will your child be afraid to call you if they need you?
If your child is not ready for a sleepover and they don’t realize it until they are at a friend’s house, you need to know your child will not be afraid to call you. At some ages, it might be difficult for a child to discern appropriate from inappropriate adult behavior. How well do you know the host and hostess of the first sleepover? You don’t want your child to be around a parent who drinks excessively and yells. Nor do you want them to be around adults who watch television shows your child is uncomfortable viewing. You should have the confidence in knowing your child will call if they need you, are uncomfortable, or just miss you.
A child will need to be comfortable asking an adult if they can call home and have memorized your phone number. These days few people have home phones, so being comfortable with how to use a cell phone is important too.
Is your child confident with other adults?
When staying at someone’s house social skills are important. A good sign a child is ready to stay overnight is being able to express themselves to adults with confidence. Knowing the social graces of eating what they are given, saying please, thank you and showing general respect to adults and other people’s things are all good signs your child is ready to be away from you for a night to stay with trusted friends.
Does your child sleep through the night without crying or nightmares?
If your child is still very fearful at night, they probably aren’t ready to be away from home overnight. Likewise, if your child is in a season of having nightmares frequently, then they probably need the comfort of their own home. They will want their own parent when they wake up in the middle of the night. Stages like this are common, but not the best time to start sleeping over with a friend.
Is your child willing to eat the food they are served?
If you have a picky eater, then you have to decide if them going to a house where they might not eat anything is a healthy choice for your child. Depending on your child’s age and maturity, knowing what and if they will eat what they are given could be a determining factor as to whether or not they are ready for a sleepover. Children will not starve if they don’t have one meal, but consider this while you are making your decision about whether or not your child is ready.
Is your child capable of doing their bedtime routine unassisted?
If your child knows the bedtime routine, it’s a good sign they are mature enough to have an overnight without you. Knowing that at night there is a set bedtime, teeth and hair brushing, and time for pajamas shows a great amount of maturity. Being able to do these tasks on their own without putting up a fight with another adult shows a sign of readiness.
Has your child stayed away from home with you overnight?
There are several factors used in assessing readiness. One such factor is knowing whether or not your child is comfortable away from home. It obviously doesn’t help you know for sure if your child is ready to be away from the family overnight. However, being excited about new places is a good sign they will do well at a friend’s house.
In short, there is no perfect age to start the first sleepover for your children. However, asking yourself a few questions about their readiness will give you the confidence you need to send them off to enjoy a sleepover when you are both ready.
Successful Sleepover Tips
If you and your child have decided to go ahead and try the first time at sleepover party, here are a few tips to keep in mind. It is a good idea to have the host parents be some that you know really well. You want to be 100% comfortable with these people and that it will be a safe environment. You also don’t want to be too embarrassed if they need to give you a call in the middle of the night.
Make sure you have a game plan for your child’s first sleepover. Coordinate a drop off time and a pick up time for the next day ahead of time. Be sure to pack an overnight bag complete with comfort items for your child such as a favorite stuffed animal to help prevent separation anxiety. Be sure to send along sleeping bags and pillows. Make sure the friend’s parents are aware of any food allergies as well as any important instructions and contacts.
I hope these tips help ensure that your kid’s first sleepover is a positive experience. When was your first sleepover?