How old is old enough to go to the bathroom on your own?

Isobel - posted on 07/02/2012 ( 17 moms have responded )




I was having a discussion in another forum about when it is appropriate to let a child go to a public restoom by themselves, and I will admit I still make my husband go with my son when we are in highway restooms because my inner paranoid mother wins out, but in general I didn't make them wait. As soon as my son said "aw come on mom, let me go to the men's room" , I did.

Am I reckless? Are women who take ten year olds into the ladies room with them helicopter parents?

What do you think?


Jodi - posted on 07/03/2012




MeMe, I too was always scared to use restrooms (and not just public ones!)! I have Asperger's and for me, public bathrooms were the worst, besides being overwhelmed in a group/crowd setting, I have a serious auditory thing and the acoustics in a public bathroom combined with the super sucking power of the toilets...the sound would drive me insane. I just plugged my ears, it *kinda* works, but I avoid public bathrooms at all possible costs.

As for the OP, I would say by the time you can send them to school, they should be ready-ish to use a restroom on their own...obviously this depends on the area! I would be quite put-off to find a 10 year old boy in the women's restroom...that's borderline innapropriate.

Karla - posted on 07/02/2012




I think I would at 6 or 7, but I'd be right at the door. Once I asked an man (obviously a dad) to check on my son because he was taking so long and has a tendency to get confused. If I remember correctly the guy did have to help my son find the paper towels or some such thing.

I know it's easy to be worried, and I do plenty of that, but remember there are a lot more sane and helpful people in the world then crazy & harmful. (I would say most "crazy" people are still helpful as well.)

I honestly think my son would have given me "the evil eye" had I told him at age 10 that he had to go into the women's room with me. (Now days we have some "family" style restrooms that help with that whole issue.)

ETA: News reports like the one you linked don't help; From everything I've read, the chances of my child being safe are much greater then the chances of something like that happening. You have to put it in perspective.

And it says, " A registered sex offender barricaded himself inside a Wendy's restaurant on Sunday after police say he grabbed a 10-year-old boy, pulled him into a restroom, tried to sexually assault the child and then stabbed the boy when he began fighting back."

The crazed man "pulled the boy into the restroom." - How do you protect against that?

Jenni - posted on 07/10/2012




By 32. :P J/K

My SD is 5 and we have let her use a public restroom alone. Although, it's usually my husband because he doesn't feel right bringing her in the guy's washroom (if I'm not there). It would also depend on whether or not it's packed. If it's busy she's too young and might get a little lost in there, not realize she has to stand in line, forget to wash her hands. But I usually go in with her anyways.

It's really not been a place I'm all that concerned about. If they can handle it, I see no issue. My son is 4 years old and comes in with me still. He has pretty bad stranger anxiety so I wouldn't consider sending him in alone. He'd likely have a fit. So for now, I know he's too young.

Vegemite - posted on 07/03/2012




yeah my nearly 5yr old has just started going to the bathroom alone but he is confident to do so and I'm just outside the door. I do have to go in to lift him up so he can wash his hands though.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 07/03/2012




Karla - My daughter is just scared. Her brain is not able to properly assess things. ADHD will do that. Her brain doesn't have time to calm down and think actions through. She definitely has ADHD. We have been to the specialist for 9 years now. I no longer medicate her though. She has been guided enough, to have the toolset she needs to get through the days, without too much issue. She has learnt how to deal, as best she can. If she can't she lets the teacher know, her ADHD is acting up. They let her have some space.

I know she takes friends with her to the washroom at school, though! She makes it non-obvious, since all the girls like to hang out in the washroom at school. lol

Thanks for the sugestion, though. I appreciate it. ;)


Her brain is so over active that to this day, when she uses the washroom at home, she is afriad to flush the toilet. However, she does it because it is a rule in our home. When she does flush it, she comes running out of the bathroom, like a bat out of hell. She has come close to falling down the stairs a few times.

At night, when she has to get up to use it. She turns every single light on, waking everyone up. Which is one of the reasons, her brother has to sleep with his door closed. **sigh**

She cannot explain what she is afraid of, other than, the loud toilet noise is scary! This is one, of many reasons, she could not babysit, yet, other children. The poor parents would come home to non-flushed toilets and every single light in the house on (along with other concerns I have, such as being too afraid to tend to the sleeping child(ren)).


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Aleks - posted on 07/09/2012




My 6yo boy asks to go to the public toilets on his own. I feel uncomfortable with some of these. Like in a park (those things are super disgustingly dirty and unhygenic, not to mention who knows what and who you may find in those), or in a shopping centre. Though I at times will let him go on his own in one, if it is absolutelly necessary.
Because I have a 3yo girl, which I take to the toilet in the Parents' Room whenever I am out, he will tag along with both of us and use that when and if he is with us.

Chelsey - posted on 07/04/2012




My eldest is 5 and she is allowed to go to the bathroom on her own in certain places. As long as I can see the bathroom door and i know she can ooen it on her own she is allowed to go by herself. If I cant see the door or it is too heavy she is not allowed to go by herself.

My younger daughter wants to go by herself as well but she's only 3 so I said she had to wait until she was 4 and then she will be allowed to go with her sister with the same rules applied.

Oh and the city I live in is only 12,000 people. I might feel differently if we lived in a bigger centre.

Stifler's - posted on 07/03/2012




I have no idea. my kids are still in nappies so we go to the disabled bathroom to change nappies and I pee in there. I reckon by 10 it's embarrassing for them to go with mum to the ladies room. They are nearly in high school it's time to use the toilet alone. if it was a dangerous area or something I'd make them use the single disabled toilet quickly and stand outside. But I live in emerald, I don't have much fear of crazy stuff going on in the toilets.

Janice - posted on 07/03/2012




Meme, my younger sister has ADHD and when she was little she was terrified of going to the bathroom alone too. Actually a lot of things scared her. As an teenager & adult she was also diagnosed with anxiety disorder which is basically being scared. I never made the link to it being over active brain making up stuff to be scared of but that makes sense.

Jodi - posted on 07/03/2012




I do think it depends on where you are. I allowed my son to go to the mens room on his own when he was about 5. We were at the airport in transit, but I was a Qantas Club member, so it was in the private lounge. I am not sure if I would have been quite so comfortable if we had been out in the busy public area of the airport. My son flat out refused to go into the women's bathroom because he was a big boy now and *big boys don't go to the women's toilets*. So yeah, I swallowed my fears and just let him go.

My daughter, I often still go into the bathrooms with her, rather than wait outside (which is a pain in the butt when you have a load of shopping), mainly because she is so little, that she struggles to open the doors to get out in some places! When it is busy, that's ok, there is usually someone who will help her, but when it's not, she could be waiting a while to get out if I don't go in.

Karla - posted on 07/02/2012




" I did give her plenty of opportunity by the age of 8 or so. She would prefer to wet her pants, than go on her own. However, her ADHD does get the best of her. It makes her mind run wild. "

Meme, I wonder if your daughter might be OCD? My friend's daughter has OCD and she over thinks behaviors and worries that what she does is inappropriate. She tested positive, and they treat it with therapy - teaching her skills to calm down etc.- no medications right now. Just a thought.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 07/02/2012




My daughter was more often than not, too afraid to go to the washroom on her own. I did give her plenty of opportunity by the age of 8 or so. She would prefer to wet her pants, than go on her own. However, her ADHD does get the best of her. It makes her mind run wild. She is still afraid of our washroom, let alone a public one but she, of course, goes on her own. She does still hesitate, though, if we are in the mall or at a large store. She asks if I will wait outside. Sometimes, I will, sometimes, I tell her she really needs to get over it (call me mean but she is almost 14!) ;)

For me, it is more a case of where you are. I am much like Karla. I would allow it, once they are old enough to take care of most of their business on their own but I would be right at the door or at least, very close with my eye on it. If they were taking too long, I would be either, opening it and asking if they were alright or asking another male to do so. If I did not get an answer from my boy and there was no male to go in, I would be going in, myself.

However, I think if you are aware of what "could" happen (unlikely but could) and make it easy for you to keep an eye on the washroom, then let them go on their own, if they wish.

My biggest concern, though, is them in there messing around and throwing toilet paper everywhere or clogging the toilet! Even the best behaved can have a devilish side (or shall we say, curious)! lol

When I was little, washrooms were one of my favorite things to check out, when we went somewhere. It was the first place I checked out, when we went to a restaraunt! Yeah, I was a wee odd....hehehe I remember being little, like 4 and 5, so I guess my mom didn't worry, much (doesn't surprise me, though). ;)

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i think that about 5 or 6 years old is that point they are usually not permitted in the opposite sex bathroom anyways.

Lakota - posted on 07/02/2012




My son is older now, but, when he was younger and it was just me and him, I went to the bathroom with him, stood outside trying to look very intimidating (didn't work), and gave him three minutes to get done and come out or I was coming in to get him. I only had to do that once. LOL

Janice - posted on 07/02/2012




I think it depends on the child and the place. I think between 5-7 is when I will start letting my little ones go in by themselves. Of course my daughter is only 2.5 so I cant say for sure. But I think by age 8 a child can man age the bathroom by themselves or stand outside the bathroom door by themselves while you go in. 10 years old is helicopter parenting IMO

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