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The Sleepover Survival Guide

Handling Sticky Situations

What's a sleepover without some sort of crisis? Count on at least one of these scenarios if you've got a biggish group.

Homesickness 

You can attempt to comfort the sufferer, but don't expect it to work. Experienced parents call the child's family right away. If you can hold down the fort, have your partner drive the child home; it takes less time than waiting for the other parents to get there, and the distressed child will feel immediately reassured.

Bed-wetting 

As a precaution, require all the kids to use the bathroom before lights-out. If the unthinkable still occurs, help the victim maintain his/her dignity by feigning a tipped-over water bottle or soda can. Mom Jessica Gottlieb of Los Angeles went along with a story about her dog peeing on a guest during the night -- "even though my dog weighs only five pounds and that was a lot of pee," she recalls.

Your child, overwhelmed

Ask him to come "help you" in the kitchen for a few minutes. It gives him some time to collect himself and for you to give him a pep talk. If this happens more than once, your child might need a reprieve from sleepovers for a while.

Arguments or teasing 

Teasing is never okay. Immediately let participants know you have a no-tolerance policy. Otherwise, avoid the urge to mediate unless the behavior continues or sounds serious. For group arguments over, say, choosing a movie or a game, take a vote: Let the majority group pick two possible movies, then allow the minority group to make the final choice from that pair. (Of course, you can always threaten lights-out in these situations, too.)

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