When to allow a child to use public toilet facilities unsupervised

"The question of when to allow a child to use public toilet facilities unsupervised is a serious concern though parents seldome compare notes on this subject. Unfortunately this is a safety issue, and a real one at that. Once children (four to six years of age) prefer their own privacy and understand the differences between men's room and ladies' room, you do need to respect their need for a same-sex facility. Women's rooms offer more privacy than those in men's rooms so it is more appropriate for children to come in with mom than it is to use the restroom with dad.

Most parents don't usually allow this to be a completely independent procedure until a child is over seven.

Things to keep in mind:

Always be prepared for facilities to be out of toilet paper. Carry purse size tissue packages with you. Alert your child to check the toilet paper roll first and to come to you ahead of time if none is available in any stall.

Despite the unkempt appearance of some public restrooms, it is highly unlikely that any disease can be contracted from a toilet seat.

Wiping a seat dry is adequate even when not aesthetically pleasing. Washing hands afterward is, however doubly important.

Supervised:

  • Stand outside the door while your child uses the facilities alone
  • Ask an appropriate looking man to take a boy into the restroom while you wait outside the door is appropriate if your child is wanting to be independent or objecting the idea of going to the opposite sex restroom around the ages of (5-9) (Same for situation with girls, Dad.)
  • Only let a child go alone to one that is in shouting distance or in view.

Unsupervised:

Can your child perform all the necessary tasks alone from locking the door to flushing to washing hands? Does your child have a healthy suspicion of strangers? Does your child have healthy suspicion of strangers? If so, then it's time to let an interested child go alone. But still be alert to your child's whereabouts.

  • Keep track of the amount of time your child is gone
  • Let two children go together

Some restrooms are never safe. Use your judgment and let your children understand your standard and why. A child could use a familiar family style restaurant restroom alone at a young age but should not be allowed to visit a bathroom in an out of the way store facility."

Excerpt taken from

Toilet Training: A Practical Guide to Daytime and Nighttime Training - pages 74-76

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