During our slumber party hire business research we found this great article from the New York times Dr Perri Klass. 7 Feb 2011. Extracted below
Ensuring Domestic Tranquillity During Sleepovers
By PERRI KLASS, M.D.
In every iteration of the interminable discussion of the new book “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” someone inevitably brings up the crucial issue of the sleepover — the childhood ritual in which the author, Amy Chua, wouldn’t let her daughters take part. The sleepover, along with its cousin the slumber party, has apparently become an essential part of childhood, for boys as well as for girls.
“My impression is that sleepovers are a phenomenon of the suburbs and they started taking off in the ’50s and ’60s,” said Paula Fass, a professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley, and the editor of the Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood. In their big new suburban homes, she suggested, children for the first time had their own bedrooms, suitable for entertaining.
Some adults probably worried about strange houses or sleep deprivation, but children knew what they wanted, and the sleepover has thrived — no thanks to parents, pundits or pediatricians.
In a recent article for The Chicago Tribune, “Sleepover Survival Guide,” Heidi Stevens quotes an expert who notes that my own professional organization, the American Academy of Pediatrics, doesn’t offer age guidelines for sleepovers and slumber parties.
In fact, searching the archives of the journal Pediatrics, I found only a single reference to sleepovers, one that will make perfect sense to all those parents who distrust “strangers”: the academy recommends that after a sleepover, you check your child for head lice.
But there’s a reason that simple guidelines are next to impossible. Sleepovers raise a whole array of emotional issues for children and parents: separation, sleeping in a strange place, playing by another family’s rules. This is a case where you really have to know your own child, the other family, the whole situation — and the other family needs to know about your child, too.
Many children as young as 8 or 9 (or even younger) do fine with a good friend and a familiar family. But anxieties can loom at any age. The classic children’s book on the subject is “Ira Sleeps Over,” by Bernard Waber (Sandpiper, 1975), in which a boy worries about taking his beloved teddy bear to a sleepover while his older sister warns darkly that if he does he will be mocked.
“Clearly, kids who have some separation anxiety issues — it’s not a sleep disorder per se — may have some difficulty negotiating the sleepover experience,” said Dr. Judith Owens, a pediatrician who is director of sleep medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington. “I certainly have had some kids come to our house who I ended up driving home at 10 at night.”
Then there is what Ms. Stevens’s article called “emotional bloodshed.” Bullying can happen anywhere, of course, but it can become particularly intense in a nest of sleep-deprived pre-teenagers. (This is not a new phenomenon. Another classic sleepover tale, Shirley Jackson’s short story “Pajama Party,” from 1957, revolves around the complexities of which 11-year-old girl is willing to sleep near whom after doing or saying what mean thing.)
Sleepovers also come up when you talk about nocturnal enuresis, or bed-wetting. Even occasional sufferers can see sleepovers as occasions of anxiety and humiliation — or just as impossible, forbidden activities, symbols of “normal childhood” from which they are excluded. Medications can be used at times to help older children stay dry through a sleepover night.
Other medications can complicate sleepovers. Drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, for example, can wear off as the evening wears on, and a highly impulsive, risk-taking child can be a potent addition to the slumber party mix. (I speak here as the host’s mother, who found herself in the middle of the night tending to some of the resulting injuries.) Here again, it is important to be sure that the host parents are fully apprised about any such issues.
In particular, “you definitely want to warn other parents if your child may sleepwalk or have a sleep terror,” said Dr. Jodi A. Mindell, a psychologist who is associate director of the Sleep Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and author with Dr. Owens of “Take Charge of Your Child’s Sleep” (Marlowe, 2005).
Sleep terrors, which are most common from 4 or 8, can persist until puberty. These episodes — in which a child sits up in bed, screaming, looking terrified, and does not respond to comfort or reassurance — tend to be more frightening for the observers than for the child, who typically doesn’t remember the episode by the next day.
Since sleep deprivation is a risk factor for such episodes, Dr. Owens said, they have an increased chance of occurring at a sleepover or the night after. In addition, she continued, “some kids are more likely to have sleepwalking episodes if they’re in a strange household.” Hosts need to be aware, so they can take precautions: hang a bell on the doorknob of the room where the child is sleeping, block off stairs, make sure the front door is locked.
Both sleep experts agreed that the rules for sleepovers and slumber parties should reflect common sense. “Do it in moderation,” Dr. Owens said. “Don’t have two sleepovers in a row on a weekend, think about planning ahead, maybe doing a prophylactic nap the afternoon before. Maybe planning the next day not to do anything that’s going to require too high-level cognitive process or emotional regulation.”
This night away from home, this now iconic childhood activity — a step toward mock independence and at the same time an intense exposure to peer standards and pressures — defies simple guidelines but calls for family conversations which range from individual medical issues to social norms and parental judgment. And that is probably why the sleepover has made such a handy vehicle for discussing the “tiger mother” questions of parental rules, rigor and responsibility.
Parents may see this as an opportunity for judgment and discussion; for their children, though, the sleepover has become something between a cultural totem and an ineluctable component of the pursuit of happiness.
“By the 1980s, you had to sleep over; otherwise your parents were oppressing you,” Professor Fass said. “It was already, by the 1980s, not a privilege but a right.”