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Guidance on Safer Sleepovers

July 25, 2022

As summer is officially in full swing, many children look forward to sleepovers with friends. As a parent or caregiver, when allowing your child to sleep over at a friend’s house, we encourage you to check in with yourself, your child and the host parent. Addressing critical questions before the sleepover is a great first step in keeping your child safe.

“We encourage parents to do their part before approving sleepovers for their child. Start with your child. Do they know your family rules around boundaries and privacy? Are they ready for this new experience?” says Beverly Hutchison, the Executive Director of Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center. “Then, ask questions of the host family to ensure their rules align with yours. Sleepovers can be a fun part of childhood, an opportunity to develop independence, and informed parents can make this a safer experience.”

Dee Norton provides questions to consider for yourself and in conversation with the host parent, caregiver, family member or childcare provider:

  • What are the sleeping arrangements?
  • Will an adult be monitoring the children’s activities?
  • Who will be present?
  • Does my child know how to identify when something feels wrong?
    • For younger children, this can be described as “uh-oh feelings.”
  • For teens, this can be a reminder about body boundaries, appropriate behavior and maintaining their own household rules. When will we check in?
  • Did I talk with my child about how to communicate they want to go home?

Take time after the sleepover to check in with your child. Open-ended questions like “what was your favorite part?”, “what was your least favorite part?”, “would you want to sleep over again?” and “did you feel pressured to break any of our house rules?” help you better understand their experience and assess the level of safety.

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