Any new experience can be daunting for a young child, especially an experience that must be faced without the accompaniment of Mom and Dad. Fortunately, we have compiled several pointers to ensure your child leaves the sleepover with positive memories.
Your child may be bouncing off the walls with excitement and shoot down any suggestion of fear, but that could be masking his anxiety. Without blatantly refusing to believe him, you may still offer reassurance through hypothetical situations or talking about another child’s anxieties. These reassurances will bolster your child’s confidence and enable him to have the fun night he keeps talking about.
Eliminate your children’s fear of the unknown by walking through the events of the night with them. Let them know what typically happens at a sleepover, so their only informants aren’t other children on the playground. As simple as the schedule may seem to you, remember that it is all new to your children—they will want to know every detail, from dinner to bedtime and everything in between.
Every parent whose child has a lovey knows what happens when that lovey is missing: everything is put on hold while family members, neighbors, and even passing strangers search for the missing stuffed animal, blanket, or other beloved item. Whether it requires driving across town or backtracking two hours to the hotel, parents know there will be no peace until the lovey, or object their child loves on, is found. Lovies give children (especially young children) a feeling of security, which is just what they need in the unfamiliar setting of a sleepover.
Although everyone is hoping that your children will have a blast, you will want to make sure that your children know how to contact you if they are not. For some children, just knowing that Mom or Dad can come pick them up whenever they call can be enough to alleviate their fears. Others may just want to hear their parents’ voice before they go to sleep. Whatever the case, both parents and children will feel more comfortable knowing how to contact each other.
Make sure your children have everything they need or think they need for the night. It can be humiliating for a child to find herself at a strange house without a toothbrush. Make a list in advance of items your children will need, and don’t rely on them to remember everything by themselves. Ensuring that your child has every necessity will enable a night of fun that will encourage her to undertake future sleepovers.