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The 5 Things You Need To Know For Safe Sleepovers

Beth Robinson, author of the book "Protecting Children from Predators" says this about how to determine if your child is ready for sleepovers:

  • “Are your children old enough to recognize when someone is trying to engage them in inappropriate sexual behavior? The younger the child, the greater the risk when you let them attend a sleepover. Younger children won’t recognize a risky situation until it is too late.”
  • “Are your children assertive enough to draw attention to inappropriate overtures from other children or adults? Some children have the confidence to yell or push away someone who makes them uncomfortable, while others are too timid to try to stop an adult or older child from hurting them. No child should attend a sleepover who lacks the confidence and assertiveness to rebuff inappropriate sexual behavior.”
  •  “Will your children call you if something unsafe happens at a sleepover? Some children are easily influenced by peers and won’t tell parents if something goes wrong.”
  • “How many children will be attending the sleepover? A sleepover with more than eight children per adult supervisor is too large. When calculating a ratio of one adult to eight children, the count must include all the children who will be in the house at the time of the sleepover.”
  • “Another issue to consider is the tensions that might arise with your children and other parents if you allow your children to go to sleepovers with some friends but not others. It’s much easier to have a ‘no sleepovers' rule, without exceptions or individual explanations.”

If you haven't considered all of these questions yet, then take time to review your thoughts and questions that arise. Journal on them if you can/want to help you get more clarity.

Now you may be saying, "BUT Rosalia, I want to allow safe sleepovers. So now what?"

Here's a SLEEPOVER SAFETY CHECKLIST you can use. 

If you can't check off every item on this list, you're not ready to send your child to a sleepover. This includes a family member's home! 

1. Do you know every single person that lives in that home? Is there a mom/ dad /step-parent/relative/siblings?

2. Have you talked to the people in that home about the abuse prevention/consent education you’re teaching?

3. If there is an older sibling, and if yes, do they have unsupervised internet access?

4. Do you know what the sleeping arrangements will be? If it’s a sleep-over party, will everyone sleep in a common space or a closed space room? (And what is the ratio of kids to adults)

5. Does your child know what safe vs. unsafe touch and do they know exit strategies?

 A BONUS QUESTION you can ask yourself/them: Are they a gun-owning home?

If yes, do they practice gun safety?

Again, if you can't check off every item on that list, then your child is not ready for an unsupervised sleep over.

You might then be saying what about a LATE-OVER (a late evening playdate with PJ's). The answer is the same. Just because your child won't be sleeping over doesn't mean the same questions don't apply.

This is why communicating with the adults in that home is so key. 

Here's a great communication tool you can start using, plus a SleepOver Emergency Plan.

Here's how to use the CONSENTletter™ template:

Copy and paste the text from the letter template into an email to send with the stats (and feel free to customize the letter).

OR: Send the PDF directly. See below for the download link.

Here's how to use the SleepOver Emergency Plan: 

(This can also be used for co-parenting arrangements)

1. Select the home that you and your child feel is a safe home and contact that person to ask if they'd be the SleepoverSafe Emergency Home.

 

2. Ask them the questions from the SleepOver SafetyCONSENTletters™ template (if you have access to the other templates, use the Relatives Letter and customize as needed).

 

3. Pack an emergency safety plan pack that includes (This can also be used for co-parenting arrangements).

  • Sleepover comforts (stuffie, blanket, etc.)
  • Consent/Safety Book (for bedtime storytime)
  • Safety Contacts (laminated list of your numbers or your family's safety network numbers)

If you live in the US, I also recommend giving your child a RELAY

 

Also, I invite you to check out some of my CONSENTwear™ kids apparel that helps kids have a voice without having to say a word.

Here's the SleepOver SafetyCONSENTletters™ link to download it! You don't have to send this to a parent if you aren't comfortable making it so formal, but you can pull the questions and script and customize it for yourself. Keep the questions the same but however you want to introduce the questions is up to you. The language in the letter can be changed to sound more like your tone and nuance, but the essentials of the question should remain the same. I hope this helps you have the important conversations necessary to ensure that you're sending your child to a safe home, or make an informed decision about why you may decide to opt-out of the invitation for your chid.

Got questions?

 

 

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