Some kids love sleepovers so much so that they can’t fall asleep the night before due to excitement, while others find the prospect daunting and have anxiety about spending the night at their friend’s place. If your kid experiences the latter situation, or if you’re the one who’s suffering from sleepover anxiety, this article on how to get over your fear of sleepovers will hopefully be of help.
We have included several tips that will ease your child into attending sleepovers without having anxious thoughts, as well as a few tips that pertain to adults who are struggling with sleepovers. We’ve also included a FAQ section where we go over some of the most pressing questions on the matter.
With that said, let’s start with our first tip for children who are prone to sleepover anxiety.
Tips for Getting Rid of Your Child’s Fear of Sleepovers
Allow Them to Bring a Toy with Them
One of the easiest ways you can soothe your child’s anxiety regarding sleepovers is to allow them to bring their favourite toy to the sleepover. Whether this is a cuddly bear or a small doll, having something at hand that they love and reminds them of home will be of great help. It will serve as a comfort to them in case they get homesick and it can help them fall asleep faster, which is always a plus.
Remind Them to Call You if They Ever Feel Scared
Chances are, your child is bringing their cell phone with them to the sleepover party. Remind them that if they ever feel overwhelmed, they can always call you. They might want to be picked up in the middle of the night to go home, or they could simply want to hear your voice for comfort. Whatever the scenario may be, be prepared on your part. Hearing your voice will most likely be enough, but in case they decide that they don’t feel comfortable in the situation any longer, you will need to be prepared to pick them up in the middle of the night.
Let Them Sleep Over at Relatives’ Homes as a Stepping Stone
If this is your child’s first sleepover, it’s completely normal for them to feel anxious and have doubts about whether everything will go to plan. One of the easiest ways to help your child get comfortable with sleepovers is to introduce sleepovers at relatives’ places first. Whether it’s their cousin, aunt, or grandparents, they will likely feel more comfortable and have a great time, which will get them excited for attending a sleepover at their friend’s house.
Bonus points if they’re staying somewhere where there are kids – this will give them a glimpse of what other sleepovers will be like and make their transition a lot easier.
Make Sure They Know Their Parents
Knowing the parents of their friends can provide a lot of anxiety relief for both you and your child. Unless you know them already, it’s a good idea to first meet up with the friend who’s hosting the sleepover and their parents in order for them to become familiar with the adults. While this isn’t a guarantee that you won’t receive the call in the middle of the night, it’s always reassuring for kids to know every adult that will be in the house. They will feel more comfortable and won’t be afraid to ask for help in case they need anything.
At the same time, this will give you a great opportunity to get to know the parents yourself and perhaps inform them about your child’s potential sleepover anxieties so they can be prepared in case something happens. This will help immensely if you’re also feeling anxious about letting your child stay over at their friend’s house.
Consider Hosting a Sleepover at Your Place
If your child is unfamiliar with sleepovers and has never attended one, what better way to introduce them to all the joys and excitement of attending a sleepover than hosting it at your own home, the place they feel most comfortable in?
Let your child have agency in terms of what kind of sleepover it will be, what they will have for snacks, what activities they will do, and whom they will invite. By doing so, they’ll get excited about getting involved and feel in control, so they’ll be more ready to tackle a sleepover at someone else’s place once the time calls for it.
Not to mention, by hosting a sleepover at your own house, you will be able to supervise your kid and be there for them in case any uncomfortable feelings spring up. Your involvement in the sleepover will depend on their age, but try to let your child be as independent as possible and come to you for help if they feel like it. Once your child sees that there’s nothing to fear, they’ll be more eager than ever to attend their first sleepover at their friend’s place.
Don’t Brush Off Their Fears and Anxieties
Regardless of what kind of feelings might come up as a result of the sleepover invitation, always validate your child’s feelings and try to be as emphatic as possible. You might be tempted to tell them that it’s only one night and that they don’t have anything to worry about, but it’s more helpful to let them know that being scared of something they haven’t experienced is normal and maybe even share an instance or two of when you felt the same way when you were their age.
Go Over a Typical Sleepover with Them
Part of their fear can be attributed to the fact that they’re faced with an unfamiliar situation. It’s normal to have anxious thoughts about something we haven’t experienced before, so why not go over some common sleepover activities with your child so they know what to expect?
You can discuss anything from the typical activities that happen at a sleepover to what the sleeping arrangements might be. This will help give them a clear picture of what sleepovers look like, so when the big day actually happens, they’ll be more prepared and know exactly what to expect.
Acknowledge Small Victories
If your child successfully spends the night at a relative’s home or they make an effort to prepare themselves for the sleepover, make sure you acknowledge their small victories and introduce positive reinforcement. If they feel like they’re making some progress in terms of facing their fear of sleepovers, chances are they’ll get encouraged and continue to improve.
Maybe you could even treat them to a fun day out in the park or a yummy treat once you notice a significant improvement in how they approach the topic of sleepovers. It’ll give you a chance to bond, and they’ll have an even bigger incentive to go through with the sleepover. It’s a win-win situation for all!!
How to Get Rid of Your Fear of Sleepovers if You’re an Adult
Unfortunately, anxiety doesn’t discriminate in terms of age. Whether you suffer from GAD, separation anxiety, or your anxiety is only related to sleeping over at someone else’s place, it can be hard to take the first step and find a way to tackle your fear. Here are some easy and helpful tips you can implement that will undoubtedly help you ease your fear of sleepovers.
Find Some Things to Look Forward To
Your fear of sleepovers might be related to something concrete, like not sleeping in your bed for a night, or it can be more generalised. Whatever the case might be, there are always reasons to get excited about sleepovers, even as an adult. These reasons might include spending quality time with your friends or partner, taking a relaxing break from work, or simply enjoying a stress-free night with popcorn and a movie. Do your best to focus on the things you’re actually excited to do instead of putting your focus on the aspects of sleepovers you find daunting.
Host a Sleepover
This tip applies if you’re an adult as well – why not host your first sleepover at your place, where you’re familiar with the surroundings and have total control over what happens? By doing so, you’ll get to experience the benefits of attending a sleepover from the comfort of your own home. This will help you associate sleepovers with a pleasant experience in a comfortable environment and you’ll be more likely to feel encouraged to face your fears.
Try a Support Group
If all else fails, you can always find a support group and discuss your problem with sleepovers with people who can relate to your situation. Individual therapy is always an option as well, especially if you feel like this fear is manifesting in other areas of your life as well.
Why Do Kids Get Sleepover Anxiety?
There are many reasons why a child might suffer from sleepover anxiety, such as being in a new unfamiliar environment and being away from their parents.
What Age is Appropriate for Sleepovers?
Some kids are comfortable with attending and hosting sleepovers from a very young age, while others don’t find sleepovers appealing until they get older, so there isn’t a specific answer as to what age is appropriate for sleepovers. If your child is younger than 10, make sure you’re acquainted with the parents who are hosting the sleepover and be prepared for potentially having to pick them up in case they get homesick.
Why You Should Let Your Child Have Sleepovers?
If you’re still unconvinced about the merits of letting your child attend a sleepover, some of the perks they can experience include making friends, having fun, and learning to become more independent in unfamiliar environments away from home.
We hope you enjoyed our article on how to get over your fear of sleepovers!
There are several ways you can help your child have a positive sleepover experience unburdened with anxious thoughts and fears. Some of these techniques include hosting a sleepover on your own from the comfort of your own house, acknowledging their fears and anxieties, getting them acquainted with the adult hosts, and practicing in familiar surroundings, like a relative’s home.
If you find yourself struggling with sleepover anxiety as an adult, some things that can help include thinking of all the positive benefits you’ll get from the experience, hosting your own chic slumber party for your friends, or attending group therapy.