Sleepovers are practically a rite of passage for kids, preteens and teens alike. But while spending the night with friends sounds like fun, it can come with a slew of dramatic situations, from friends playing mean pranks on one another, to kids feeling left out, and even embarrassing situations like wetting the bed and separation anxiety. Before your child heads off to a sleepover, or before you host one in your home, put safeguards in place to reduce the sleepover drama for a night of good, clean fun.
Wait until your child is ready to attend or host a sleepover. While Dr. Perri Klass, in an article for The New York Times, suggests that most kids are ready for sleepovers by age 8 or 9, the age at which your child is ready for such an undertaking is highly personal. If your child still suffers from separation anxiety when you send her off to school, she might not be ready to be separated from you all night long, either.
Check to see that the sleepover has proper supervision and only allow your child to sleep over at the homes of friends whom you know and trust. When you host a sleepover, check in regularly to make sure that everyone is getting along and that no one is breaking rules. If your child is sleeping over at a friend's house, ask the friend's parents about supervision and who will be home with the kids.
Provide structure for the sleepover schedule. When kids are left idle, they might make their own entertainment by getting into trouble, arguing over what to do or breaking your set rules. By providing a number of scheduled activities, like a movie, playing a game or other activities, you keep the attendees busy and drama-free.
Invite a smaller number of guests to the sleepover, suggests Dr. Stephanie Smith, a psychologist and regular contributor to the Your Mind Your Body website. Too many kids can cause issues when one doesn't like another or some kids are left out. Instead, inviting a few close friends can help keep the level of drama low.
Ask that the kids skip the usual sleepover pranks, which can be deeply embarrassing for the victims. While a group of kids might think it's funny to prank their sleeping friends, it can cause serious problems when one is singled out among the others. Pranks can also be mean in nature. Talk to your child ahead of time and make sure that she doesn't participate in pranks.
Suggest alternatives if you don't feel comfortable hosting or sending your child to a sleepover. For instance, your child could host a "late-over," where the guests go home at midnight. Or, instead of a big sleepover, she could choose one friend to go on a family vacation with you instead. This gives your child the opportunity to choose her own activities within the boundaries that you've set.