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Sleepovers & Bedtime

Gaining Control of the Wild Child at the Sleepover

Many parents dread the moment a teen says he wants to invite so-and-so, a.k.a. the "wild child," for a sleepover. The wild child gets riled up exactly when it's time to go to bed and causes the real nightmare at the slumber party. Although it's not pleasant to tell your child he can't have a sleepover, the thought of letting the wild child into your home gives you hives.

There's One in Every Crowd

Just like there's always a quiet kid or a class clown, there's always a wild child. Sure, you'd rather invite the quiet kid, but your teen is begging you to invite his best friend.

Sleepover Guidelines

Don't let the wild child ruin the sleepover. Lay down some ground rules that you expect everyone to follow. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Set clear-cut boundaries. Don't just go over the rules with your child, go over them with everyone. The first thing you should do when teens arrive for a sleepover is go over what is accepted in your house and what isn't. You don't have to kill the mood, just causally bring it up. For example, "I know you guys are going to play outside right now, but remember, no going past the neighbor's driveway or you'll have to come inside."
  • Set a schedule. Setting a schedule for your teens and their friends might seem like something you should only have to do with little kids, but to control a wild child it's necessary. If you don't, the wild child might come up with his own activities. For example, set aside a few movie choices for the kids to watch before anyone else gets there. You can choose to put the rest of the movies out of view, so the guests can only pick from the ones you deem appropriate.
  • Remain calm. No matter what happens, remain calm. When teens see you freaking out, they might think its funny and continue the action to get a rise out of you. Let everyone know you're in control.
  • Lay down consequences. You can set consequences, but don't single anybody out. If one or two kids are getting wild, address the problem with the entire group. "Everyone is getting a little loud, please calm down or I will come watch the movie with you." The last thing most teens want is a parent hanging around the party.
  • Talk with the parents of the wild child before the sleepover. If there's a child who is particularly troublesome, but your child really wants him to sleepover, talk to that child's parents before the sleepover. Consider setting up an agreement that you can bring the child home if things aren't working out.

Stand Your Ground at the Slumber Party

Remember, it's is your house, and you have the authority to impose consequences and boundaries. You should be more worried about ensuring the safety of all the kids at the slumber party, rather than wondering if you're a "cool" parent. If the sleepover gets completely out of control, you may need to resort to ending it altogether.