When would you let your child go to a sleepover?

What's the appropriate age to let your kids start going to sleepovers? We asked 1,427 parents about this - and got advice from an educational psychologist...

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Letting your kids sleepover at someone else’s house is something of a rite of passage.

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When they’re very young you might be reluctant to do it even with grandparents or other family members – just because they might wake in the night and be upset, or at least want you first thing in the morning even if they do sleep through.

So at what age do you think you’d feel confident letting your children stay overnight at someone else’s house?

We asked 1,427 parents at what age they’d let their child sleep over at someone else’s house and the most popular answers were:

  • 8 years (17%)
  • 7 years (15%)
  • 6 years (12%)
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Parents share their views…

When we asked for more detail on this topic, lots of parents agreed, understandably, that who their kids were staying with would make a big difference to when they’d let them do it.

For example, some said they’d let their children stay with grandparents overnight from a few months old, but if it was with school friends they’d need to be much older.

A mum of 3, who’s oldest child is 7, said: “Mine already do this at cousins’ houses but for friends I would wait until they’re about 10 at least.”

Another respondent said: “[I] would need to know the parents at the venue and how many children were going.”

One respondent said her children would need to be 13 before letting them stay over with anyone other than grandparents.

Though others were more relaxed, saying: “I would let my child go and have a sleep over at the age of 5.

“I would have no concerns as long as there is a responsible adult in the house with them.”

What does the expert say?

We checked in with educational psychologist Naomi Burgess on this one – and she reckons the trick to getting the most enjoyment from the ever-popular sleepover is to be prepared, and aware.

“Whether you are the parent of an attendee, or you are running the sleepover, you will want the experience to be fun and go smoothly,” Naomi says.

“Here is my prototype check list:

  • Be sure the relationships in the group are all positive to avoid squabbles, and revisit this before sleep!
  • Be sure that the children know the night routine and that it’s always ok to ring home, or wake up an adult if they are frightened/want to go the toilet.
  • Moderate the sugar so your little visitors are able to keep on an even keel.
  • Make sure each child has their special blanket or toy and offer a substitute if not.

Naomi also has a great suggestion for making sure the kids are nicely chilled before they go to sleep.

“Do choose a special meditation for getting those excited children to wind down,” she advises.

“I use one where each child silently chooses a rainbow colour, climbs on to their colour, sits gently, then lies down on it, then sinks into it and closes their eyes. While you say this, slowly decrease the volume of your voice.”

And finally, says Naomi: remember that some children wet the bed and may not want others to know why they are going home early or not going at all, so do be sensitive as each child is different.

Here are some of the key words that came up when we asked parents about this topic…

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Images: Getty Images

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