By the time your child is about six or seven years old she will start asking permission to sleep over at a friend’s house. It’s all part of the ‘big kid’ phase where she wants to develop a social circle outside of the family. As long as you trust your child and know her friend and her family, then there’s no problem with a sleepover. However, you do want to arm your child with the right manners so she doesn’t annoy her friend’s parents (and embarrass you). Here are some rules to set.
Greet the parents
The first thing your child should do when she reaches the house is to say hello to her friend’s mom and thank her for the invitation. It would be nice if you send over a ‘hostess gift’—just a small but sweet token. This can be fresh flowers, a card your child made, a plate of homemade cookies. But if there is no gift, a big smile and sincere thanks can certainly make a good impression.
Remember the magic words
All kids should know the magic words: please, thank you, no thank you, and excuse me. Ideally you have drilled these into their heads through years of reminders and, of course, using the words at home. But remind them that they’re especially important when visiting someone else’s house!
Always ask permission
Though everyone says ‘Please make yourself at home!’ do remind your child that this should not be taken literally, and that he needs to ask permission before using anything or going into a room. He can’t just raid the refrigerator or turn on the TV without asking. (Read our tips on how to teach kids to be more considerate.)
Don’t leave a mess
It is crucial that your child picks up after himself and is careful not to leave any permanent damage—like huge chocolate stains on the sofa! And, if he uses anything, he needs to put it back in its proper place.
For your own sanity tell your child to call once he gets to his friend’s house. You may also grab the opportunity during that phone call to ask to speak to the friend’s mom. This can help assure you that the children are under adult supervision, but will also give you a chance to thank her for hosting the sleepover.
Go home on time
This the first step to teaching your child to respect curfew. And it also means that your child doesn’t overstay his welcome. On your end, be sure to pick your child at the previously arranged time. If there is an unexpected emergency, do call ahead to give them notice and apologize profusely.
Photo from alphamom.com