If your family has decided that sleepovers are reasonable when the conditions are right, you still have to decide when your child is old enough. “Should I let my child have a sleepover?” is the first question, but it will be followed by “When can he (or she) start sleeping outside our house?”
In some ways, this is an easier question. No one will know better than you when your little one is comfortable enough in his own skin to be happy away from home all night.
So When Is a Child Old Enough For A Sleepover?
A child needs to be mature enough to handle being away from his or her own bed for a night before he or she can really enjoy a sleepover. For most kids, that maturity level comes somewhere between 5 and 7 years of age. But that doesn’t mean your child is really ready for the entire sleepover experience. So how do you know?
For most parents, it’s a mixture of instinct and preventive maintenance. If your child is reliably dry every night, you’ve passed the first hurdle. Once your child has overcome any developmental fear of the dark, he’ll be more comfortable in unfamiliar surroundings. If your little one knows the other people at the party well, including the adults, he’ll be even more comfortable.
(BTW, if your child has nocturnal enuresis, or bed wetting problems, they make discreet “big kid undies” with extra protection to take the worry out of sleepover nights.)
How to Handle Sleepover Fears
If you think your child may be a little timid, here are a few things you can do to help:
- Pack a favorite stuffed animal – unless you think your child would be the only one there with one. Those stuffed animals that open up to become pillows are the perfect solution for kids who don’t want to show up with a teddy bear… it’s a cool pillow with a little extra built in comfort.
- Make sure your child knows the house before party time. Go by for a visit so the place isn’t brand new on the night of the party.
- Ask the host to talk to everyone before bed. See if they’ll ask whether everyone is comfortable and wants to stay all night, so your child doesn’t feel singled out – but has the chance to ask to come home, just in case.
You’ll know when the time is right. When circumstances align so you know your child will be comfortable (and you are comfortable with the grown-ups in charge), it’s time. Building a positive, trusting relationship with your child is the best way to know the answer to the question. When you can talk to a child about their concerns and have them listen to yours, you’re on the right track.