The Sleepover Debate: Should You Let Your Kids Have Sleepovers?

Sleepover or no sleepover? This topic has a lot of parents talking.

By: Amanda Mushro

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Photo by: SW Productions

SW Productions

Sleepovers have quickly become a hot-button issue for parents. Not whether you should offer popcorn and a movie to the kids, but if you should have a hard "no sleepovers" rule in your home.

While sleepovers were once considered a rite of passage for kids, the debate has many parents speaking out about the dangers of allowing your child to spend the night at a friend’s house. One mom even went viral on TikTok for saying she wouldn’t let her kids go to a sleepover.

For some, allowing their kids to attend sleepovers opens their kids up to dangers like abuse, alcohol and drug use, gun violence, and bullying. However, parents on the other side of the debate say that sleepovers help kids gain independence and learn about different families and cultures.

From social media to PTA meetings, many parents are talking about the debate and many of them are divided on the safety of a sleepover.

Yamalis Diaz, a child and adolescent psychologist at NYU Langone Health, tells the New York Post that parents should coach their kids on how to handle different situations when at a sleepover instead of just banning all invites.

"They do serve a really nice function," Diaz told The Post. "As your kid gets older, if their peer group is doing sleepovers, and you, as a parent, are taking them out of that social context, you are limiting their ability to develop and practice [social] skills, and [hindering their ability] to participate in their world."

Some experts say parents need to make their choice based on their child and how they feel about the sleepover.

"What makes a sleepover appropriate for a child is less about an age number and more about the individual child," Dr. Sara Douglas, a Manhattan pediatric neuropsychologist, tells NBC. "Can the child be flexible enough to follow someone else's rules in a new environment?"

While sleepovers may not work for some kids, for others, they can be a positive experience. "From an emotional perspective, can the child be in a new place and feel comfortable? And I might be stating the obvious, but does the child even want to go?"

Not ready for a sleepover, but still want your kids to feel included? Try a "sleepunder." Instead of spending the night, kids hang out in their pajamas and partake in all of the usual sleepover activities, but when it’s time for bed, all of the guests head home.

Also, having frank conversations with parents who are hosting the sleepover is also a good idea. Let them know your concerns and ask questions. If you feel comfortable with the answers, you may be more likely to allow your child to attend a sleepover at their home.

It’s also OK to have the rule in your home that kids can’t have sleepovers until a certain age — or at all. You can even make the decision to host sleepovers at your home instead of allowing your kids to go to someone else’s house.

Bottom line: These types of choices are very personal and parents need to make choices that work for them and their families, regardless of social media debates.


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