Sleepover Tips For Kids With Special Needs
One topic I’ve been asked to talk about is sleepovers. Sleepovers is a mixed topic for me. I generally discourage them, simply because there are many variables you can’t control. That said, I do have some tips for you on how to handle them because we don’t want to see a child who is very motivated to go on a sleepover have to lose out on that opportunity.
The way sleepovers usually work is you will have several children at your house, and they will stay up all night and eat things they’re not supposed to eat. The parents get exhausted and go to sleep, so there’s not a lot of parental control later in the evening. This is also a time when kids tend to push the boundaries on rules and regulations in the home environment, and this can be a challenge for some of our kids who are very rule-driven.
I know from my own experience going on sleepovers as a child, that somewhere around 3 a.m. when we were high on sugar we tended to not make good decisions about how we treated each other or the way we treated our home environment. We were just kids who had had way too much sugar and not enough control.
An Alternative To a Sleepover
One thing you can do instead of having a sleepover is to have activities that go into the night, say until 10 or 11 p.m., but then have everyone go home. If your child doesn’t sleep through the night your whole weekend can be messed up because then they’ll need to sleep during the day, they’ll be cranky—there are many different ramifications when you change schedules like this. This is especially true of the kiddos who attend our treatment centers because they don’t tend to adapt very well.
Consider Inviting One Friend
If you really want to have a sleepover have it at your house where you have control, and invite just one other child. This way you can have good control over things. You can set up a schedule and rules, and make it clear that there will not be a sleepover unless the children are in bed by a certain hour, etc. When you have the sleepover at your house you can see what they’re eating, you know what’s going on, and you can set some boundaries for your kiddo.
Make Sure You know The Family Well
I also recommend only doing sleepovers with family and friends who you are extremely close to, people who know your child and your child’s struggles. Or, make sure that the kiddo you bring into your home is very accepting and is not going to challenge your kiddo.
Keep Them To a Minimum
The last thing I recommend is that you keep these to a minimum, in order to keep your own sanity.
These are a few tips that I hope this helps you in managing sleepovers. If you’re a client here, you can also talk to your therapist about strategies they think would be helpful in that type of environment. They’ll have some great ideas for you!