I was eight when I went on my first non-family sleepover, but these days I know parents whose kids have started having sleepovers at four or five. Obviously all kids are different and there's no "right" age for sleepovers, but what would you consider to be the signs that a child is ready to stay overnight at a friend's house? And how do you prepare them (and yourself!) for the experience?
I found a couple of articles (here and here) at Associated Content that give several tips for making your child's first sleepover experience a positive one. Among other things, they suggest that your child should help pack his or her overnight bag, being sure to include any favorite books, blankets or stuffed toys. They also rather cannily propose giving your child something new and fun, such as an awesome new sleeping bag, to take along with them.
The articles also reassuringly state that it's totally normal for kids not to stay the entire night on their first few tries. The key thing is that they build up their confidence over time with longer and longer attempts (without being pushed, of course), until they manage to do it.
I can remember from my own childhood that being able to stay overnight away from my parents was a huge milestone, and an invaluable confidence-builder. It may be a bit of work (and ever-so-slightly heartbreaking) for us parents but it's totally worth it.
What are your sleepover stories, past and present? Do you have any tried-and-true tips from the sleepover trenches? Tell us in the comments!
Image: Flickr member Jolante, via Creative Commons