LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - It's summertime. It's hot. Your kids are bored. They want to spend time with their friends, and with the freedom of a summer schedule, maybe they ask to spend the night.
For most parents, 'yes' or 'no' depends on who the friend is- and how well you know their parents. But, with new technology, a big focus on safety, and parents who are rightfully involved in their children's lives, giving a 'yes' to a sleepover needs to be precluded by some questions.
“They need to be learning from their parents about their bodies, what the names of their body parts are what sensations arise from those body parts,” Stanford said.
He said building a relationship with your child where they can tell you how they are feeling is vital, especially if something happens to them. He said being ignorant to deeper conversations is ignorant and damaging.
“If our kids are coming home and talking to us about embarrassing stuff that happened at school in front of everybody, those are kids who are also going to be able to talk about stuff that happens with their bodies that are unashamed,” Stanford said.
He also said parents need to question the other parents about the sleeping situation.
“Is there a younger sibling of the same opposite sex also sleeping in the room? You might be surprised of the things that are normal in some families that might strike you as very odd,” he said.
He recommends suggesting separate sleeping situations for each child.
“Not necessarily in a different room but a different setting like on different mattress or couch,” Stanford said.
He said sleepovers can be very beneficial for your child, however.
“To see what other families are like and how they do things is an important part of diversifying a child’s values and understanding,” Stanford said.
Stanford said if your child is asking to sleepover, it is best to let them go.
“If your child is even willing to go sleep at someone’s house at a relatively young age, 6 or 7, there’s a pretty good chance you’re doing something right,” Stanford said.
You may have seen a list of questions circulating on the internet regarding sleepover safety, and things every parent needs to be aware of before sending their child to a friend's house overnight.
We're big proponents of having all the available information before making decisions, and with these questions, so can you.
- Is there a gun in your home?
According to The Center to Prevent Youth Violence, 1,600 children die each year because they access unsecured firearms in homes.
- Who’s watching the kids?
You interview your babysitter- so don't feel awkward about asking your child's friend's parents questions as well. It's important to know parents will be there to supervise the whole time.
- Are there internet rules/regulations/parental blocks/ etc.?
Kids don't always know what is and aren't appropriate to share online. Make sure they'll be supervised.
- Will the kids be going out or staying home?
A good question to ask, young or old.
- Anyone else in the house?
This question might not be the easiest to ask, because of the intention behind it, but it's one of the most important. You don't want your child in contact with anyone who might hurt them or compromise them in any way.
The most important advice is for you to just trust your instincts. If you don't feel right about the sleepover, suggest a different idea, or bring your child's friend to your house instead.
What questions do you ask when your child asks to sleep over somewhere? Send your suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we might feature them on THV11 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Friday, July 13.