It’s a hot topic around the mum water cooler – what is the right age for kids to be ready have a sleepover? Baby Hints and Tips spoke with Psychologist, Giuliett Moran of Empowering Parents to ask the tricky questions about sleepovers.
What is the right age for kids sleepovers?
I don’t believe age is the most important factor when making this decision, as children develop and mature at different paces. I think the key things to consider when deciding if your child is ready for a slumber party are:
- your relationship with the family your child will be staying with (the age would likely be different if it is a cousin/close family friend who’s house they have spent a lot of time at as opposed to a school friend who’s family you don’t really know?)
- your child’s assertiveness, resilience and confidence
- your child’s relationship with the friend(s) that they will be staying with
What conversations should I have with my child before they have a sleepover?
Begin having conversations well before the day/week of the sleepover. We don’t want to worry children by confronting them with negative hypothetical situations just before their first slumber party. Instead, having regular conversations with your child about making good choices, how to manage a range of feelings and emotions, safety and what to do if they feel scared or uncomfortable will give both you and them confidence.
How can I prepare my child and myself for slumber parties?
It’s really important for parents to build strong relationships with their children, fostering open and honest communication and talking regularly about their feelings and emotions. This ensures that children feel comfortable expressing any worries or concerns that they may have and similarly, allows parents to communicate their concerns (in an age-appropriate way).
What if I’m nervous about my child being away from home overnight?
Build a relationship with the family, whether it be visiting their home, going over for dinner, etc so that both you and your child are comfortable in the environment. Also communicate with the family to get an understanding of what is planned for the slumber party, so that your child is prepared and knows what to expect throughout the evening.
I worry that my child could be assaulted because they’re vulnerable when they’re asleep.
If this is a concern for you, it’s important to consider why? Is it a general concern or is it specific to a particular family/home.
If it is a general concern, consider what boundaries and family rules you want to set with your children, (i.e. no sleep overs) and talk to your children about why this is important to you.
If your concern relates to a particular family/home, it’s okay to ask the parents any questions you may have about who will be there on the evening, where the children will be sleeping, etc. and getting to know the family better before making a decision so that you feel comfortable with the people and environment where your child will be staying.
I just want to ensure my child is safe. How can I do that?
Observe your child’s behaviour when engaging with their friends. Are they confident enough to assert themselves, make decisions and to speak up when they are unhappy or uncomfortable? You might find that this changes depending on who they are with and is an important thing to consider when allowing them the independence of attending a sleepover.
What if I still feel uncomfortable letting my child attend a sleepover?
At the end of the day, every parent has to do what they believe is best for their child. If that means saying ‘no’ to the sleepover that your child is desperate to attend, consider ways that you can compromise such as a late night stay (picking them up just before bed) or hosting the sleepover at your own home.