Question: Is My Kid Ready to Spend the Night Away From Home?
Summertime, school breaks, special occasions, and parties can create invitations for your youngster to spend the night away from home. Even daycares and kid-friendly enrichment activities get in the act on occasion by offering a for-a-fee slumber party for kids and a mom and dad's night out. But how do parents know if their kid is truly ready to spend the night away?
Answer: While many experts suggest that youngsters entering the 2nd or 3rd grade (roughly 7 or 8 years of age) are generally ready to spend the night or several nights away from home, parents really do know best whether a kid is ready based on maturity and ease of being in new and perhaps unfamiliar settings. Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding whether a kid is ready to spend the night away. If you answer mostly "yes" then your youngster may be ready to pack his bags!
- Has your youngster successfully participated in a sleepover at a friend's house before? "Successful" typically means sleeping through the night, not crying for parents, and being comfortable in the alternative sleeping arrangement.
- Is your kid able to dress herself, brush her own hair and teeth, cut her own food, take a shower or bath independently, and clean up afterward?
- Does he make new friends easily and adapt to unfamiliar situations readily? (Being shy is somewhat normal; however, a child's readiness may be determined by whether a kid adapts and fits in after getting comfortable with a situation).
- Does your kid display self-control? Can she remain calm and in control? Does he handle disappointments in an age-appropriate manner? Remember, not everyone gets to be the line leader, light the campfire, or serve the snack. How does your kid cope with not being selected for certain duties?
- Is your youngster fairly adventurous and does spending the night away from home appeal to her? Is he looking forward to a new experience or does it somewhat frightening?
- Is there an alternative or option if your kid gets uncomfortable or inconsolable while spending the night away? Some camps or outings offer a "option" to kids who may find they strongly dislike being away from home, which could include parental presence or phone calls home or even a special support group for homesickness. While it rarely happens, a worse case scenario is that your kid desperately wants and needs to come home.
- And, finally...are YOU ready for your youngster to spend the night away? Camp counselors and even other parents say that sometimes it's the moms and dads with the emotional or attachment issues and not the children themselves. So, before you consider asking your kid whether he wants to spend the night away, be sure you'll let him if he says yes! And, if so, relax! As long as parents have done their homework and checked out the situation, home, camp or occasion and are comfortable with the activities, sleeping arrangement and supervision when your kid spends the night away, then leave your contact information, wave goodbye with a huge smile on your face, and expect to hear all about the fun!