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How can I tell if my child is ready for a sleepover at a friend's house?



That depends on your child's comfort level. It is easy to be brave during the daytime, but kids tend to regress a bit around bedtime, and that is when a child wants the security of home. 

That said, there are some exceptions, even at a young age. Many preschoolers may have already spent overnights at family members' homes or at Grandma and Grandpa's house when you were away, so they may be ready for a sleepover and will think it is a treat.

Still, you will want to assess whether your child is really ready for a sleepover, especially if she or he is a preschooler. If your child has an elaborate bedtime routine, typically needs your comfort during the night, clings or cries when you leave him, you may want to postpone a sleepover for everyone's sake. If your child still wets the bed, talk with her and with the host's parents beforehand so that a bed-wetting incident will not be traumatic or embarrassing for anyone (you might also pack a pair of Pull-Ups in her overnight bag for your child to wear to bed).

After thinking through all of these issues, if your child is really not ready to spend a night away from home, try a practice run instead. Send your pj-clad, sleeping-bag-toting child to a relative's home for a few hours of nighttime fun, chatting, and snacking. By 9 p.m., pick your child up. That way, everyone can get some sleep.

On the other hand, if your child seems ready for a night away, and is eager to try it, then go for it. You'll want to do your homework, of course. It is always a good idea to meet with the host's parents ahead of time (or talk with them on the phone) to make sure your child will feel safe and comfortable at her pal's house. Talking with the parents first also allows you to address any of your concerns, for instance, making sure there aren't any guns in the house and determining that the parents will use good judgment in offering age-appropriate activities to the kids, such as movies that are not too terrifying.

Be sure your child's first sleepover is at the home of a familiar friend, whose parents he or she knows, so your child will feel more comfortable. Make sure everyone understands that your child can come home if she or he changes their mind -- just call. (You'll want to stay at home or keep your cell-phone handy so she can reach you.) Answer any of your child's questions beforehand, such as where he or she will sleep, and then help get ready for the big occasion (don't forget to pack a stuffed animal, a favorite toy, or blanket for extra security). When you drop your child off, explain that you'll be back right after breakfast.

Call around bedtime, if you think your child might find that comforting. If that's likely to trigger tears or make your child anxious, let your child decide whether or not he or she wants to talk with you before bedtime. Chances are, your child will be having so much fun that the kids will scamper happily off to bed ... but not necessarily off to sleep!

If you decide to have a slumber party, here are some party games and ideas: Slumber Party Ideas


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