Sleeping at a friends house is a fun part of growing up but sometimes sleepover fears can kick in and a child’s fun can turn into anxiety.
Our daughter LOVES the idea of sleepovers. The key word being “idea”. My girl loves routine. She loves her bed and lovies. She loves her bedtime routine and knowing that if she wakes up in the middle of the night, mom and dad are just a few steps away down the hall.
She is a kid who loves to know what to expect and has all seven years of her little life. So right now, the idea of going to a sleepover at a friend’s house sounds good on the surface but deep down, she’s not ready. And that’s fine by me.
Some kids don’t skip a beat and can’t wait to sleep over at a friend’s house. This is great but it doesn’t come that easy for others like my daughter. When you have a child who loves to know what to expect and is a bit of a worrier, the thought of sleeping away from the comforts of home is intimidating.
All children are different. What works for one 7 year old, may not work for another 8 or 9 year old. You know your child the best, so just trust your gut when deciding if the time is right for your child.
For now, we kindly decline any invitations for sleepovers and have decided to work on getting her more comfortable with the idea of sleeping away from home. Working on this beforehand is the perfect way to listen to your child’s concerns in a comforting environment. Then you will be able to help prepare them on how to handle worrisome situations that may come up while they are away from home.
The goal is to find ways to help our kids gain confidence and overcome sleepover fears. Here are some tips to help get you started so that you can help your child feel more at ease and successfully make it through the night away from home.
Real Tips To Help Kids With Sleepover Fears
Reassure your child that it is okay if they don’t want to go to a sleepover.
Kids who struggle with the idea of going to a sleepover can feel embarrassed for saying they don’t want to go. Let them know that there is nothing wrong with waiting until they feel more comfortable. It’s supposed to be a fun experience and it they are afraid the whole night, they may never want to go to a sleepover again.
Practice with a family slumber party or camp out at home.
Set up a sleepover with your child at home. Pop up a tent in the backyard or roll out the sleeping bags in the family room. This is a fun way to test the waters of your child sleeping out of their bed and get a feel for what a sleepover is all about.
Sleep at a relative’s house.
If you have family close by, let your son or daughter stay the night with them as practice. There will be comfort because of the familiarity of their surroundings, and this is a great way for them to practice staying away from home.
Host your child’s first sleepover at your house.
Pick one of your child’s closest friends to spend the night at your house. This is a great introduction to sleepovers because your child is already comfortable with their surroundings. This will keep you close to handle any situations or feelings that might come up as the night carries on and you’ll be able to help your child work through their dilemma.
Take baby steps.
Another great tip is to make arrangements for your child to stay at a friend’s house until bedtime. Make plans to pick her up at 10:00 that evening. This takes a little pressure off the idea of a sleepover. With this arrangement, the fun doesn’t turn into anxiety because they haven’t spent the whole night worrying about if they will be able to make it through the night. And don’t be surprised if she decides to actually spend the night!
Talk about what to expect.
The unknown can contribute to sleepover fear and anxiety so go over some details with your child before they go. Find out where they will be sleeping, what kind of sleepover activities they will be playing, what kind of yummy snacks with be served, etc. Having an idea of how the evening will play out can help ease a young one’s mind more than you realize.
Let them bring something that reminds them of you.
Some kids like to have a family photo to remind them of home. A photo or small little item that reminds them of home can be very comforting.
Make sure they have everything they need.
Be sure to pack all the bedtime comforts of home; pillow, special lovey, blanket, favorite bedtime book – anything that they familiar with during their bedtime routine at home.
Make good night plans.
Make plans to say good night whether it’s a quick text or phone call. I suggest this with caution. For some kids, this can create more homesick feelings so do what is best for your situation.
Be sure to let them know you are only a phone call away.
Be prepared for that late night call requesting a pick-up. It can be comforting for a child to know that there is a backup plan if they truly panic need to come home. After their first few sleepovers, you can set a cut-off point (maybe midnight) after which they need to stick it out until morning but this is definitely something to do once they have a few sleepovers under their belt.
Bottom line: Don’t feel like you need to rush the process. Some kids just aren’t comfortable with sleepovers and that’s okay. Don’t down play your child’s sleepover fears. You want their first sleepover experience to be a happy memorable one. If you think your child is ready to give sleepovers a try, give these tips a try and keep us posted on how things go.
And if you are hosting a sleepover at your house, be sure to check out this great list of Sleepover Activities for Girls. They are sure to make the evening full of fun and giggles!
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What great tips! Our Grandchildren have sleepovers with us and they usually fine but if they have a bad dream or awaken in the night it’s hard to orient them. You have great suggestions, especially to bring something from home like a special blanket, stuffed animal, etc. plus some love and they are good to go. I’ll be sad when they grow up and don’t want to come over anymore.
Rebecca Bryant says
These are great tips. My son was 15 before he got over his fear and stayed at a friends house. Now i can’t get him to sty home…lol
Liz Mays says
I think these are some great strategies. It does seem like starting with something familiar would be helpful.
These are good tips to have when the time comes. We are not quite there yet and I think I would be more nervous than they would!
Helene Cohen Bludman says
These are great tips. For some kids the idea of a sleepover can be scary, but once they get over their fear they really enjoy it.
Star Traci says
These are really good tips. For a while, we just waited for the dreaded phone call at 11:00 because my son would get scared in his friend’s room and wanted to come home. He’s over it now but it was a definite rough spot.