The Subtle Art of Saying No to a Sleepover

The Subtle Art of Saying No to a Sleepover

March 16, 2020

If there was ever a time that Queen’s number one classic “Under Pressure” rang true with parents, it would be when sleepovers are in season. 

It’s no joke. 

Sleepover requests are commonplace in the majority of family homes. Before you’ve even had the chance to say yes or no, your kids will be packing their overnight sleepover bag full of games and stuffed toys. Most parents expect this to happen at one point or another once their kids reach an age of between 8-12. 

But what if you’re just not comfortable with it, or if it’s just not the right time for one? 

So, now comes the difficult conversation of saying no. How can you explain yourself in a way your child will understand? How can you say no to sleepover invites without offending another parent? Don’t sweat it. 

We’ve already done the heavy lifting, and come up with some tantrum-proof, adult-sensitive tactics for how to say no to sleepover requests.

1. Be honest

As cliche as it may be, honesty really is the best approach when rejecting a sleepover request. Your child may be upset or disappointed at the initial refusal, but this will only be exacerbated by an unclear reason. 

Telling your child you’re not comfortable with them staying at another person’s house is understandable to them, even if they don’t want to accept it. Furthermore, you can reject a sleepover party request from your child for the same reasons. Other parents might be in a similar position to yourself, which is a great argument as it provides power by numbers.

So long as your firm, yet calm, your child will get over the sorrow of missing out on their friend’s sleepover party. As for the parents, a simple explanation that your child isn’t ready for sleepovers should suffice.

2. Offer alternative day time activities

Alternative activities can be great compromises. Suggesting a trip to the zoo or to the movies can soften or even remove the blow of missing out on a sleepover opportunity. 

This is particularly useful if your child has requested their own sleepover. 

It can be trickier when it’s someone else’s sleepover, yet depending on your child’s friend's parents, there could be room for change to the party schedule to suit your needs.

3. Be flexible

Flexibility follows a similar path to offering alternative activities.

If you’re concerned about allowing your child to go to a sleepover, or even hosting one of your own, it could be the actual sleeping over part of it that’s putting you off. Therefore, the activities leading up to lights out aren’t really the issue.

Allowing your child to attend their friend’s sleepover up until bedtime is a perfectly good response. Your child still gets to enjoy their friend’s party, but you can rest easy knowing they’ll still be sleeping in their own bed.

Worried the other parents might find this strange?


Picking your child up before a sleepover has finished is normal, and you might even find you’re not the only parent doing it.

4. Suggest a family sleepover 

This last tactic might seem a bit out of left field. Having a family sleepover, where all children are accompanied by their parents, may sound a little odd. In actual fact, it can be a great way to bond with your kids and make some new adult friends for yourself.

A family sleepover ensures that everyone including the children can have a safe and fun time. You can let the children play and be silly together while building your own relationships with their parents. The only sticking point is finding a big enough space. 

The bottom line

We’ve all at one time or another felt the coercive force of our children. And when it comes to a sleepover, saying no can have big behavioral ramifications. 

With these tips and a stomach of nerves, you can be sure that rejecting a sleepover invite or request doesn’t have to be a nightmare.

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