With winter break from school coming up next month in the Albany area, you know your children are going to ask you at some point if they can spend the night at a friend’s house.
But parents, just how do you know when your children are ready for one of their first forays into establishing their independence?
Sleepovers are an important step for 7- to 9-year-olds, Fran Walfish, author of “The Self-Aware Parent,” told Parents magazine.
"If your child likes them, chances are she is growing more comfortable with separation from you," Walfish said.
With the following tips from the magazine, you can increase the chances that your child won’t want to bow out at around bedtime.
Offer to host: Before you OK a sleepover at a friend's house, let your child test the nighttime scenario by inviting her pal to yours. "That way, you'll see if your child grows tired of being with her friend or starts to squabble with her after a couple of hours -- a sign that she may need more social-skills practice before staying over at another family's home," Walfish told Parents.
Talk about what to expect: Getting apprehensive before or even during a sleepover often stems from the unknown. Your child might wonder where he'll sleep, whether it's OK to call you before bed, or if bringing his favorite stuffed animal will make him look like a baby. And you might have some of the same anxieties, too. So before you accept an invitation, find out how the sleepover will unfold and bring up any concerns you have to the hosting parents.
Get your kid on board: Once you are comfortable with the sleepover arrangement, let your child know the key details.
Help everyone get along: If you're hosting a sleepover with more than one other child, decide how you're going to handle such situations as who gets to sleep next to the birthday child or play the first round of Just Dance.
Know when to fold: If your child is at his first sleepover and wants to come home for a reason that can't be fixed -- "I miss you and I can't fall asleep," or "Their dog is barking and scaring me!" -- it's best just to pick him up rather than try to persuade him to stay. "Doing so establishes the trust that you will come get him if he needs it," Walfish said. "The next day, you can talk about how he felt and what might make it better in the future. But dwelling or over-analyzing will only make him feel like he failed."
Trust your gut: Don't feel like a bad parent for declining a sleepover request. “It’s smart to skip one if you think your kid isn't quite ready,” Walfish said. "It's better for kids to have a positive first experience than to risk an embarrassing or upsetting incident that might turn them off altogether."
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