Your Parenting Info Sign Up

Sleepover Safety

by Ronald A. Rowe | January 15th, 2014 | Elementary, Safety

girls n tennis ballsMany parents worry about their children going to a sleepover at a friend’s house. But not as many give proper thought and concern to safety issues surrounding having your child’s friends sleep over at your house.

There are liability issues, among other things. You need to be concerned with not only the safety of the visiting children, but also the impact their all-night presence is having on your child and the potential issues it can present for you as well. The degree of danger depends on a variety of factors, including how well you know the family of the visiting children. As a rule, I would recommend that you avoid ever being alone in a room with someone else’s child if you can help it. The world has changed too much and you have too much to lose to allow any sort of potential he said-she said disputes.

Make sure that your child understands in advance what the rules and boundaries are. Many a parent has been shocked at the difference between what they assumed their child would do at a sleepover and the chaos that actually ensued. Elementary aged children want to be a good host but they have not necessarily developed the skills and judgment to do so in an all-night/multiple guest situation. A young child may, with the best of intentions, be convinced that being a good host includes acceding to your guests’ every whim, such as serving up plates full of cookies and milk by the gallon at midnight.

Things that your son or daughter would never do under normal circumstances may seem reasonable to him or her under the pressure of wanting to make a good show for overnight houseguests. Do not take it for granted that your normally well-mannered child has developed the social graces or judgment necessary to manage several overnight guests. Talk to her in advance, spelling out what is and isn’t OK, what time the lights go out, when the kitchen closes, etc.

It is also wise to communicate with the parents in advance. You want to be explicit about the movies you will show, the food you will serve, and the general ground rules for the sleep over. The other parents should be wise enough to provide you with information on food allergies — you would hope they are — but it is in your best interest to ask anyway. Make the conversation a two-way communication. Tell, ask, and listen.

The last bit of advice is the most obvious but it is worthy or reinforcement. Supervise, supervise, supervise. You don’t want to plop a sleeping bag down in the midst of the kids but you don’t want to be too far off, at least until lights out and a little after. Four eight-year-olds will behave better — not necessarily well, but better — if you are hovering in their proximity whether or not you are actively engaged with them.

Comments on Sleepover Safety