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When is it OK to send your child off to the public toilet by themselves?

A mum has shared with us that she was seriously debating allowing her five-year-old son to go to the toilet alone.

She wrote, “My five year old is fiercely independent and wants to do everything by himself. But now he is making a huge fuss every time I make him come with me to the ladies bathroom if we’re out and about.

“He begs to go in to the mens’ bathroom by himself but I never let him. We do often use the parents room but he still asks to go alone. I feel really uncomfortable about this! At what age would you let your son use the men’s toilet by themselves?”

What mums think

Many mums agreed that he was too young to go on his own. I must admit even as a grown adult I HATE using the public toilets.

My youngest is ten and I always make him go with his dad or wait if possible.

A couple of mums said just to be honest with him and let him know why it is not a good idea.

“Just talk to him directly and openly! Say that as much as you want him to be independent and how proud you are he is such a strong person, going to the toilet on his own is not safe, and that you both need to stay together to make sure nothing bad happens to him.”

Many agreed kids are not old enough until in their teens and they aware of the dangers.

One mum added, “Once he has a black belt in Karate!”

What the experts say

Parenting expert Jo Ryan from support service Babybliss said the age of when a child should go into a public toilet alone is a ‘tough question’.

‘It depends on the child really,’ she said.

‘I think six is too young. I’m not sure if I’d want them to go in a public toilet on their own,’ Ryan explained.

‘Some boys want to do that at that age, you have to judge the child and whether it is a safe environment. Toilets are always an unknown.

‘For me, I don‘t think I would let them go in on their own, I would want to take them with me. It’s usually when they are a bit older -around 7 or 8 – that they want to go in alone,’ Ryan said.

She recommended that parents make use of parenting rooms more often.

At what age would you let your kids use a public toilet alone? Tell us in the comments below.

We invited our members to give their views in our facebook discussion – check out all the comments below.

  • My eldest is 13 and I’m still uncomfortable; I refused to even consider it till he was 12.

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  • I still don’t like it and one of my kids is double digits

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  • Oh heck no! Five is wayyyy too young to be using a public toilet on their own. My sons both used to act up about this but my “scary mum” voice would come out and that was that. I have known adults who have been attacked in public toilets – I don’t think they are safe for any age in some places! Just find a disabled or parent’s room. It is not worth risking safety!

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  • Always in a group, never ever alone. I even hate using public toilets alone!

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  • My daughters are 13 and 7, I usually say to them to go together or I will be just outside and wait. Never alone

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  • I cant remember how old my kids were to use public toilets by themselves. I always wait close by though, even when they were old enough

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  • I will be very protective of our son, and will have a parent with him for a long time yet!

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  • I have no idea! This actually really freaks me out.
    I was just saying to hubby the other day how do we know no creeps have snuck into a school one?!!! Arghhh! So much anxiety!

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  • I think is is individual to the situation

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  • Depends on the child and the neighbourhood I guess.

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  • This is a hard one all depends on the child but I have 2 daughters and they always went all together but for boys now thats a hard one

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  • This is such a hard one. But for me, double digits at least – 10 and up.

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  • I always used to worry about letting my boys go to the public toilets on their own. I handled this by checking no one was in their first and then they would go in but I would wait at the entrance until they came out. I would sometimes get funny looks but I honestly didn’t care. I was looking after my boys and that was all that mattered to me. I truly think that if I didn’t think they’d get all embarrassed I would have walked in first just to check.

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  • Ahhhh so scary! This I somethings that makes me so anxious! I don’t know what I’ll do!!

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  • My hubby let my son go on his own first when he was at the Shopping Centre with him. I was shocked when we were all together and my son just went to the toilet whilst we were having a coffee. I then learned my son and hubby had a deal and he could see the entry/exit to the toilet; and he was checking his watch to determine what was reasonable. My son was quite comfortable, me less so, but I went with it. I can’t recall the age, but certainly younger than I had thought. He was at school, so probably around 6 or 7.

    Reply

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