A: Great and fair question. Nothing is 100% guaranteed to be safe. But there are definitely steps you can take to increase the level of safety at a sleep over. Here are some things to think about as you make the decision of if and when my child and family are ready for sleepovers:
- Ninety percent of the time a child is harmed it is by someone they know and trust. Family members, friends and neighbors, coaches, etc. With that said what proactive steps have you taken to teach your child about their personal safety so that if they had a question or were confused or harmed by someone they would know how to access help?
2. Just like we don’t put a teenager in a car and say – ‘okay you have your learners permit – start driving’, we take steps to teach children skills so they are empowered to make safe and smart choices and come to you when they need help.
3. Are you comfortable to ask the people you are leaving your child with questions?
Sleep over questions to ask:
- Who will be watching the kids? (Do not assume anything – find out if they are being left with a teen sibling, a babysitter, or someone else).
- Do you have older children and will they or their friends also be staying over? (If you do not know if the child has an older sibling you probably do not know that family very well – so might not be a good place for a sleep over to start with. But you should know as is often the case that a mass sleep over is occurring.)
- Do you have a gun in your house? (Yes, you can ask this question. They have the right to have a gun – but is it locked up? Can it be accessed by accident?)
- Will you be staying at your house? What is the plan?
- Will the kids have full access to technology? (Do they use technology in the bedroom?)
- What are the sleeping arrangements? (You would be amazed at some wacky answers you can get.)
The point is this – sleep overs can be awesome – but as with anything that has to do with the safety of your child, taking some time to decide if it is right for your child and for your family is important. There is always the compromise of a half sleep over – which is usually better for kids because it doesn’t throw their sleep pattern off – no horrible cranky kid the next day.
Let us know how it goes!