Are sleepovers good for your kids and you? Most of us have fond memories of sleepovers we attended as children, whether they were for birthday parties or just staying the night at our best friend’s house. But as a parent, your perspective on sleepovers tends to be different. Rather than thinking about all the awesome things that will happen, you worry about all the things that could go wrong.
Which makes you question: should your child attend sleepovers? Are they good for your child and for you?
The answer will depend. Some families have a hard rule that sleepovers are not allowed, others just do not see the harm, and most fall somewhere in the middle, allowing some sleepovers but not others, giving their children the chance to be a little more independent while giving themselves a small break.
If you fall in this middle ground, you need to approach potential sleepovers carefully. We recommend asking yourself the questions below to determine if a sleepover is a good idea or not.
Maybe you know the mom or the dad, or even both, but what about everyone else who lives there? There could be older siblings, younger siblings, even grandparents, aunts, and uncles. Some families rent out extra rooms to boarders for more money. If you do not know everyone in the home and know them well, it is best to not allow the sleepover.
We are getting a bit serious here, more than we usually do on this blog, but it is important. Our gut often tells us things we cannot quite quantify or express. These things are usually that someone is unsafe, tricky, or just creepy. While we are socially trained to ignore these gut feelings for the sake of politeness, don’t. Your child’s safety is at risk. And if you struggle with trusting your gut, try reading The Gift of Fear and Protecting the Gift, two books that will help you and your children learn to go with their instincts.
In a sleepover situation, you are putting the other parents in control, and unlike with a babysitter, you do not get to dictate how things happen. While it is nice for children to be exposed to other ways of doing things, you don’t want it to be so radically different that it causes your child distress.
While your child might find the prospect of a sleepover exciting, they might not actually be ready for it. Not all children do well deviating from a routine, and nighttime can bring underlying anxieties to the surface. You know your child best, so only you can decide.
If you feel confident in your answers and they point you towards allowing the sleepover, go for it, but be certain to discuss things like risky behavior and good touch/bad touch with your child before it happens.