Don’t Push a Highly Sensitive Child: Sleepovers

Highly sensitive children (HSCs) are often the children who don’t look forward to school camp. They are often not thrilled about the idea of staying somewhere overnight without you being there too. But with patience and acceptance things do change.

Don't Push a Highly Sensitive Child: Sleepovers


This post is an update on the blog piece I wrote about three years ago – Highly Sensitive Children and Overnight Stays Away from Home. I stated back then:

“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.”


“Maybe one day, when they are older, things will be different, but for now it is what it is.”

And that is what this post is about.

One Day, When They are Older, Things Will be Different

In my last post on the topic of sleepovers I shared that my sons wouldn’t stay overnight elsewhere for love nor money, or sweets. Not without us being around.

Three years on? Try and stop them.

They will know when they are ready. I will know when they feel ready.

My eldest, the little boy who cried as a toddler if we left him with a grandparent to go out even for a few hours during the day, the same boy who screamed the house down at the suggestion of an overnight stay without his parents, one day decided he was ready for a sleepover.

Not only was he ready for an overnight stay, he was thrilled, excited and looking forward to football camp. And then an overnight stay a few weeks later at summer camp. And then a sleepover at a friend’s house. And then school camp. And then two nights at football camp. And so on. He felt safe with his teachers and classmates, and his football team. His self confidence had grown. He was just ready.

My youngest is still a terrible sleeper but he has also stayed overnight for football and summer camp. And he’s begging to stay at a friend’s overnight.

My middle son has no qualms about staying overnight somewhere but freely admits that one night is enough. His bucket is well and truly filled after a night somewhere else. So we accommodate that.

Three years after writing that an overnight stay without us was unthinkable it is now a normal occurrence. We even got to go away for a night ourselves this year whilst all three boys were at football camp! Unimaginable just two years ago!

Patience and Acceptance

I have learnt, particularly during the past two years since we moved house, that a HSC who feels safe, comfortable and accepted is a HSC who is willing to step outside of his or her comfort zone. They may take tentative little steps, but they are steps nonetheless.

The right environment is essential.

Them knowing that you will catch them if they fall is vital.

I don’t think pushing a HSC is the answer. Gentle motivation and encouragement help. Pushing does not.

To all of you out there wondering if your child will ever be comfortable spending a night away from you: they probably will. Just be patient. Keep trying. Don’t push.

They’ll let you know when they are ready.



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.
This entry was posted in The How, The What and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.