Ward Leber (CEO) gives expert video advice on: What safety rules should I teach my child before allowing a sleepover? and more...
What is a 'sleepover'?
Well, a sleepover is where your child is going to somebody else's house, a friend of theirs. Or, the friend is going to be sleeping over at your house. Usually, sleepovers start when kids are around five or six years old. But it depends. They could be pretty much any age doing sleepovers.
How can my child be harmed during a sleepover?
Your children can be harmed during a sleepover for a variety of reasons. You run your house the way you want to run it and perhaps you keep your loaded firearms in a locked safe. At the parent's house that they're going to, they might not do that. All the other kids might brag about their dad's gone and they want to show it to them. Unfortunately it happens every single day of the week. Some kid gets blown away because of that. You need to go over to the other parent's house and actually do your own safety inspections to see if it's like you would run your house. You need to find out what they think bedtimes are. You need to find out what you're going to let them watch on TV, and what games that they're going to play. You need to know all the kids that are involved, because a lot of times the danger doesn't come necessarily from the house, it comes from the other kids that they are involved with. If those kids are drinking - some kids are drinking at nine years old, sometimes younger. You need to get more information about whose house you're leaving them with, and that means physically going over there. Parents usually never do this. They just don't go over to a neighbor or a neighborhood friend's house and ask them, “Do you have loaded firearms in the house?”. Or many other questions that would deal with your child's safety. But I really strongly recommend that parents do that.
What safety rules should I teach my child before allowing a sleepover?
They're going to need to know what the difference is between right and wrong in your book. The number one responsibility isn't how you parent them while you're with them, but it's what they learn when they're not with you, so you're going to need to make sure that they understand what behaviors aren't appropriate. If you've set guidelines for them about certain types of ratings on television or video games, you need to make sure that those things are followed. A lot of kids have different health issues where they're not allowed to eat certain things because they can have reactions to it or it's not good for them. If you've set nutritional guidelines for them, you need to make sure that they know your rules about that. When you leave the house, most kids are listening to the parents saying "now I want you in bed by such and such a time" and "you know you can't eat peanut butter because that causes a reaction". So, those types of things where they're giving them general rules. Whatever your rules are, when they're going to somebody else's house I'd make sure that the other parents know the same rules.