Slumber party invitations begin to accompany traditional birthday party invitations during tween years. If your child has never spent the night away from home or has only slept over with cousins or grandparents, the first friend sleepover can be thrilling and a little bit scary. Help your tween have fun at her first slumber party without making her feel like a little girl.

Talk with your tween

Before sending your tween off for a sleepover, talk with her about expectations for the party. If she's never slept away from home, she's likely to have strong feelings about it — both positive and negative. Things to consider when deciding if your child is ready for a slumber party:

  • Has she spent the night away from home with a family member or friend of the family?
  • Do you and your family socialize with the host's family?
  • Has your daughter been to her friend's home prior to the sleepover?
  • How many girls will be attending?
  • Does she seem eager to attend?

When you decide, together, that she's ready for her first slumber party, take four steps to make it a success.

Pack familiar items

isolated teddy bearIt seems like common sense to bring along some familiar items from home, but it can help to discuss which things will make the trip. A favorite stuffed animal is a given for many girls, though she may want to tuck it into her pillow until bedtime. Consider letting her take something to connect her to home, like one of your inexpensive bracelets or a photo she can tuck into her bag. The tangible reminder that you'll be thinking of her can help ease some of the anxiety that may arise in the moments between arriving and starting to have a really fun time.

Turn up your ringer

Be sure your child knows that she can always call you. Make a point to tell her the ringer on your phone will be on and you'll keep it nearby — and then do it. Knowing she can come home if she's uncomfortable might be just the reassurance your daughter needs to make the decision to sleep over with a friend. If she does call, answer, talk through any concerns and let her know you will respect her decision to come home or stay with her friend. "You can always call me" sets the stage for the teen years, when you definitely want her to feel comfortable calling if she feels uneasy or unsafe.

Discuss details of timing

Don't leave details about morning pickups in the air. Speak with the hosting parents about when they'd like to see you the next day. Some parents enjoy a lingering breakfast, while others prefer their overnight guests to pack up soon after waking. After discovering the host's expectations, talk with your child. You don't want her to be surprised if you come early or nervous if your arrival is closer to noon.

Know the home

The first slumber party should be in a place your child feels comfortable. If her first invitation is from a friend from class with whom she's had little interaction, try to arrange a get-together prior to the party. Ask about pets or siblings who will be at home during the sleepover. The more information your child has, the less likely she'll be surprised by anything that happens at the party.

The bottom line^ After the initial decision has been made, keep your comments positive. Your child will feed off your apprehension if you feel unsure about her readiness. Remember she may be tired the next day or her nails may be painted in shades of the rainbow you didn't even know existed. Encourage her to talk about her experience, and then brace yourself for the day she asks you to host a slumber party at your house!

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