My Child Doesn't Want to Sleep Away from Home

At a certain age, children start to get together at friends' houses to have sleepovers. However, some children don't enjoy the experience of having to sleep away from home.

Last update: 02 April, 2019

New adventures and experiences, as simple as they may seem, tend to cause excitement in little ones. This is often the case when children get to spend long hours at a friend or family member’s house, or sleep away from home for the first time.

However, negative feelings can often arise when little ones aren’t used to having sleepovers. In this case, parents ask themselves: Why doesn’t my child want to sleep away from home?” One of the possible causes is that he or she is afraid, or has had an unpleasant experience.

Being away from home, or even in their own home but without their parents, can make children feel insecure. Just the simple act of not sleeping in their own bed can produce an urgent need to go home. 

Why doesn’t my child want to sleep away from home?

The reasons why children are reluctant to sleep away from home are numerous. For example, they may feel attached to their parents or their home environment. It’s also normal, when night comes, for children to start to miss their usual habits and customs.

Parents should take into account that the place where children feel safest is in their homes. It’s normal and perfectly understandable for children to have negative emotions about sleeping anywhere else.

When children have to sleep in an unfamiliar place, they may become uncomfortable and even irritable. 

This might be because they start to miss the familiarity of their homes – for example, the texture of their own sheets, their mattress, familiar objects in their room, aromas and even the temperature they’re used to sleeping in.

If my child doesn’t want to sleep away from home, what can I do?

To make this experience a positive adventure rather than a traumatic event, you need to prepare your children psychologically and emotionally. This way, they can enjoy each moment they spend away, even if this means being away from their parents when it comes time to bedtime.

In most cases, children’s social lives give way to activities that help them connect with friends and classmates.

Between the ages of 6 and 8, invitations to spend time at a friend’s house become more and more common. And spending the afternoon at a friend’s house can open the door to future invitations to sleepovers.

However, before accepting this type of invitation, parents need to make sure their children are ready for this experience. If you’ve discovered that your child doesn’t want to sleep away from home, it’s important to really figure out why.

The most important factor you need to analyze is whether or not your child is independent and autonomous when it’s time for bedIf not, then it’s probably not the right time for him or her to start attending sleepovers.

“Being away from home, or even in their own home but without their parents, can make children feel insecure. Just the simple act of not sleeping in their own bed can produce an urgent need to go home”


Below are some useful suggestions on how to face the process of adaptation and maturation:

  • When it comes to children, spending the night away from home for the first time, we suggest building up their confidence. For example, spending the night at their grandparents’ house or with cousins is a great way to get them used to sleeping elsewhere.
  • Communication is essential to producing trust in children. It’s important to talk with them about the issue. You can do so as you prepare their overnight bag. Ask them how they’re feeling and offer encouragement. Assure them that they’re going to have a great time.
  • Children need to know that you’ll always be there in case they need to speak with you. You can tell your child’s friend’s parents to give you a call if your little one requests it or becomes upset. Make sure your children know you’re willing to pick them up at any given moment, and make sure their hosts understand this as well.

  • Don’t forget to send any beloved comfort object your child may have, such as a blanket, stuffed animal or storybook. This will help make the unfamiliar environment more comfortable and familiar.

If, when the time comes for children to spend the night away, they won’t stop crying, this is a clear indication they aren’t ready. The best thing to do is not force the situation. If you do, you’ll only be reinforcing the negative and traumatic feelings.

In conclusion, remember that it’s extremely important for parents to give their children confidence. This means being confident ourselves, rather than being worrisome or overreacting to their crying or fear.

Nor should we pass our own fears onto our little ones. If we stay calm and reassure our children, we’ll keep them from noticing our own anxiety and feeling anxious themselves.

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