A childís first sleepover can be an event approached with, both, extreme anticipation and apprehension. It is a right of passage that some of our children are ready for earlier than others. Eventually, they will all leave the home Ė if only for one night!
Iím going to share some tips on how to prepare for that first sleepover.
Children often donít know what to expect on a sleepover. For some, the unknown is not a big deal. For others, it can cause extreme anxiety. Talk about what a sleepover is, what people do on a sleepover, and what happens in the morning when they wake up. Let your child ask questions.
Consider the individual and unique needs of your child. There is no set age at which a child should be able to sleep away from home. Some children are born rearing to go, and others will avoid sleepovers like a plague. Some children need a little nudge, some coaching, or a bit of reassurance.
Talk to the other parents. Little things Ė like a glass of water by the bedside Ė that you take for granted may be really important to your child. Inform the hosts about any idiosyncrasies your child may have. Does he occasionally wet the bed? Is she a sleepwalker?
You can start small. If you have an uneasy child, consider a sleepover at grandma and grandpaís house for the first experience. Or, instead of a sleepover, begin with a sleep-under. Your child will go to his friends for pizza, a movie, and pajama wearing Ė but heíll return home to sleep. Itís a stay-late play date.
Have high hopes but low expectations. Be prepared for the late night phone call. If you are not willing to pick your child up in the middle of the night, postpone the sleepover. Accept your childís decision and needs in regards to her ability to stay the night. She may think she can do it, only to discover itís too much.
Discuss the plan for the night. Allow your child to ask questions. Will the children be sleeping in the bedroom? Will they be on beds or on the floor? Are they sleeping downstairs in the basement? The answers to these questions have the potential to impact your childís experience.
If your son or daughter does not last through a sleepover the first time, donít be afraid to try again, and again, and again if you have to. Sleeping out of the house for the first time is a new and exhilarating experience. It can also be anxiety producing. Do what you can to help your child approach the sleepover with peace, and be willing to accept the outcome Ė even if it surprises you.