Highly Sensitive Children and Overnight Stays Away from Home

Highly sensitive children like safe, known and trusted places and people. They are often most comfortable in the company of a few and are usually homebodies. So what happens when they stay a night somewhere without their parents or guardians?

Highly Sensitive Children and Overnight Stays Away from Home

Well in all honesty I cannot answer that question from personal experience. My children wouldn’t willingly stay overnight without me or their father for all the sweets in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (yes, we are reading that book at the moment).

The mere hint of an introduction to the idea has ended in tears. Even with us sitting downstairs my youngest is a terrible sleeper and he usually ends up in tears at some point during the night. Never mind suggesting he goes to stay the night at someone else’s house or a place where his mama and papa are not.

There are those that have said we should push them, just leave them with grandparents for the night. Those are the people I don’t listen to. I know my children. I know how that would end. And I know their trust in me would ebb quickly if I tried to force them into a sleepover somewhere. I know they would be traumatised. They will know when they are ready. I will know when they feel ready.

It’s taken a long time to get to the point where my husband and I can even go out once or twice a year and leave the boys with someone else for a few hours. From an early age my eldest screamed the house down if he was left with someone else, even if it was a familiar face. Going out was more stress than enjoyment.

My youngest is still uncomfortable being left with someone else (read: screams and cries himself to sleep). So gathering them up for a night at their grandparents, for example, has never been on the cards, despite how much my boys love visiting their opa!

Going away for a night whilst someone stayed and looked after my children at our house just isn’t on the cards either.

“He adores his grandparents, but doesn’t like staying overnight with them.” Long Hat is a Hero

And we accept that. Maybe one day, when they are older, things will be different, but for now it is what it is.

In the future though there will be challenges. School camp looms for my eldest. I have seen mothers talking about this very issue in parenting groups on Facebook – their child gets so homesick and stressed going on a school camp it becomes traumatic and not the fun it is supposed to be. The second time around they don’t go. I am not looking forward to the discussions that will be had here about it.

Middle ground is hard in these situations. I don’t have a solution, other than acceptance. Maybe it helps to know that a reluctance to spend the night away from the family home without parents is common amongst HSCs – and there is nothing wrong with your child.

Over to You: What experiences have you had with your HSCs staying overnight somewhere without you? Do you have tips for other parents?



About Amanda van Mulligen

Mother, writer, author, blogger. Born British, Living Dutch. I have three Dutch sons and a Dutch husband and I blog about Turning Dutch and raising highly sensitive children.
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6 Responses to Highly Sensitive Children and Overnight Stays Away from Home

  1. Pingback: Don’t Push a Highly Sensitive Child: Sleepovers | Happy Sensitive Kids

  2. Pingback: Warning: Parenting Can Seriously Damage Your Marriage | Happy Sensitive Kids

  3. Amber says:

    Making arrangements for sleepovers is tricky for us also. We usually don’t do sleepovers as my child just isn’t ready for that, at all!
    In the past if we have a big event on, we have asked a trusted family (Aunty & 2 kids) to sleep at our house, where the HSC has the comfort of being at home with the comfort of trusted people. It really worked well for us. The kids all camped in the same room in the master bedroom on mattresses (to make it fun) and it was comfortable for the adult/Aunty looking after our child. Then when we get home we sleep in the kids bed. Our child has a double bed as she usually needs someone in with her at some point during the night.
    We just introduce things slowly and tend trial things before we actually need it to work!
    We won’t be going to a friends for a sleepover for many moons yet. There is no problem with that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. angelacamacho89 says:

    My 10 yr old daughter quit doing sleepovers when she started going through puberty. Her highly-sensitive traits have really amped up with all of the hormones raging! I would love to hear from some other moms of preteen girls and if they are experiencing the same things! She gets so I upset when I leave her or go places without her. We homeschool so we seem to be together all the time…


    • OH how I wash I could home school! My 11 year old has been absent from school more than half the days already and it’s only September . Yes pre-puberty is a huge fear of mine. My daughter attempts to sleep over her grandparents and then we get the phone call at 10-11 at night to come get her. She misses us and wants to come home with her toys and stuffed animals. I don’t know how to handle puberty, but I’m quickly running out of time. She doesn’t have any friends left to talk to about puberty when it happens any day and she’ll surely feel as though she’ll bleed to death literally when I talk to her about puberty. Anything to do with pain or blood causes an extreme reaction. I just set up an appointment for a psychiatrist and I’m crossing my fingers they can help us help her. I hope someday she can stay over her grandparents or a friends house. These kids are sadly missing so much growing up, because of all the fears. It breaks my heart .


      • Amber says:

        Honestly, I can quickly relate to things breaking my heart, also. But most times if you follow the lead of your child you are providing more comfort, reassurance and safety then any amount of missing out on fun can measure. They are just wired up to want for different things – one persons fun is another’s fear, same too as adults with “roller coaster rides or even walking through a dark tunnel with wild animals”.
        I think the most FUN you can provide a HSC is to listen to their bodies and support their anxious mind so that they don’t feel alone because as a sensitive adult nothing seems like more “fun” to feel safe & happy.
        I have a 5yo HSC girl and life is different to having your usual robust, average thinking child but the rewards are the same as a parent of any child – but HSC are just amazing thoughtful adults of the future who will be beautiful soles.
        Isn’t it just a shame we are the minority and people who don’t know about these types of kids really don’t understand or want to understand what it’s like for us. It’s challenging, consuming & overwhelming. I am also seeking help with school drop off – it’s a hard day every day when your heart sinks that your baby (no matter what age) has trouble fitting in with what other kids do without so much as a blink of an eye.
        With chat groups and blogs like these it makes LIFE SO MUCH EASIER! Supporting a parent of a HSC is my mission in life forever, as I know how much the child needs a parent to connect and not to judge or compare them to “other kids”. HSC are already so hard on themselves it seems unfair to do it alone.

        Liked by 1 person

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