At What Age Should Boys Go to a Public Men's Room Alone?
April 26, 2010
Just wondering when it is appropriate to send my sons to the restroom alone when we are out and my husband is not with me? My oldest is 5 1/2 and I feel a little inappropriate taking him into the ladies' room with me, but still feel like he is young to venture into the men's room alone! Thanks!
I think 5 1/2 is too young. My son is five and he still goes into the ladies room with me. I do send him into the stall by himself so I know he is able to go on his own. But I wouldn't want him in a restroom and not know who else is in there with him. He is not that aware yet of strangers versus good adults. I have never had another lady tell me anything or even give me a strange look.
I've found that ladies don't gennerally mind having small boys in in the bathroom as long as they are polite. However, when my boys reached the first grade, they understood that boys should use the boys bathroom. At that point I started allowing them to use the boys bathroom on their own while hovering outside the door. This made the boys more comfortable and they knew that I was listening for them, and my obvious presence outside the bathroom door acts as a deterent at least. I also make use of the family bathrooms when available.
There are several posts here, but I'll throw my two cents worth in... I have a six year old boy. He goes into the restroom by himself with mom close by. We have taught what is appropriate and what is not. I cannot physically be there to protect him all the time, but I can give him the tools necessary to protect himself. He knows that nobody should approach or touch him in his "no-no" areas period. This applies in public, at school, everywhere. I love that even our doctor will explain to him that only mom, dad, or doctor should touch, and that doctor can only touch with mom or dad in the room. I think you have to do what you feel comfortable with, but I also think education is important.
Ok, so I totally disagree with most of the answers here. I say it totally depends on your son. I was the same way with my daughter, but by 7 or 8 she was allowed to go by herself, with me close by. By the time she was 9, she is allowed to walk to the restroom by herself, while I continue to shop. It made me a nervous wreck the first several times, but I finally realized that she was growing up and had to learn to do stuff on her own. Now if she's gone too long, I still go check on her. She is very mature for her age and very aware of the people around her. But she proved that she could handle it herself and we've never had any problems.
My oldest son was 10 when I started to let him use the men's room without me. I still hang around outside. My youngest son is 8 and he still goes with me if his brother isn't around. I much rather be safe than sorry. You also have to consider if your child will play while in the bathroom. Most kids that age without a parent around will play and touch everything in sight in there and I'm sure you don't want that.
I have two sons that are 10 and 4, with my first son, he was 9yrs old, lol, and I still stand outside the door waiting if we are at for example a truck stop, out of town, on the road, I give him a time frame and then call his name and if no answer I WILL GO IN READY!!!...LOL and it will be the same age for my 4yr old unless he goes with his big brother, tooooo much is happening to kids these days so you have to take that extra measure of security dealing with your kids they will get over it ....
Hi E.. My son is 6 and he still goes in the ladies room with me if my husband is not with us. He does, most of the time if there is not a lot of people in there, go in a stall by himself. I am just leery about sending him into a public men's restroom by himself because of the 'not knowing' who is already in there. I will feel better when he is a little older and I feel that he has a better grasp on stranger situations. I know that you already know this, but don't EVER let anyone make you feel like you are doing wrong by not letting him go into the bathroom by himself - you are the momma and you know what you feel/think about the situation.
This has been a problem for me as well. My little boy is a month from turning 5 and he has started telling me he is embarrassed to use the womens restroom. He says he is not a girl and doesn't like it. So we compromise. If we're somewhere large like Walmart he has to use the womens restroom with me but if we're in a smaller place like an uncrowded restaurant etc I will let him go alone while I stand outside the door. I hope this helps. And thanks for asking, I look forward to reading the responses!
Our Son will be 10 in July and we just now started to let him go to the men's bathroom alone. He still goes to the restroom with me when I go and we are shopping alone together. We will stop that soon of course but I always look for family bathrooms or places with small bathrooms. but places like the mall, walmart etc. Tough, He comes with me. I have never had anyone say anything. If I did, I would just say, He's mine. I choose. Sorry if it offends you, we will be done soon. I have to protect my son in this world we live in. Don't worry about others. Use your best judgement and go on. Good Luck
I was say it depends on the location. He obviously goes to the bathroom alone at school, so he is capable of the task. You are just concerned about him being apart from you. Start with restaurants, library, and other places where there are likely 2 or 3 stalls and not a line of people. There may not even be anyone else in there or just one or two others. He will start to feel comfortable with this. I would wait on places like theme parks, sporting events, etc. where he might encounter 30 stalls, a crowded line, and multiple exits. But within a year, he should be ready for that.
As a woman I wouldn't mind a bit seeing a 5 year old in the ladies restroom. In fact I wouldn't let him go to the men's room by himself until the age of 7, when you can really talk to him about strange men, inappropriate touch, things like that. I would much rather run into him in the ladies room than hear about him on the news.
OK, not really a response, I'm not sure that I've made this decision for myself and my children yet. But, I'm curious...for all you women who are adamant that 10 or 11 is the right age (which seems old, although I understand the safety concerns) Do you all feel the same WHAT ABOUT YOUR GIRLS? If your husband is out with your daughter, do you expect him to take her into the mens' room until she is 10 or 11??
I don't really have an answer for you but i also have a boy 5 1/2 and like you i feel a bit awkward taking him into the ladies room, but i am not about to let him go into the men's room by himself!! Not in this day and time!! I figure that i will let him go by himself when he asks and then stand outside the door on pins and needles until he comes out!! I just feel like if others in the restroom take offense, well they must not have kids of their own! You've just got to do what makes you comfortable.
Have a great day and god bless!!
My oldest son is nine now and does NOT like going into the womens bathrooms but most of the time he still does. I'd rather him be uncomfortable than raped or molested by some freak. Once in a while I will let him go into a mens room if it's a "one-holer" or if he is the only one in there.
I believe we should always listen to our "gut" feelings. Maybe it is too soon to have your 5 1/2 year old son venturing off into a men's room alone. It has been my experience, when faced with the same situation, other moms understand. There have been some really sad situations that have taken place in public restrooms. If you should decide to allow him to go in alone, open the men's bathroom door. Don't feel bad about looking inside, from wall to wall. Show your face in the place. Feel confident, you both will know when it's time.
There is no way my 5 year old son or even 7 year old son would have been allowed in a public men's restroom without Dad. He was small for his age and I taught him how to behave in the women's bathroom. Alot of ladies room have a small sitting area, and if so, he sat quietly there while I was using the restroom. Otherwise, he stood away from the stalls but where i could talk to him if needbe. Probably at 5, I still took him into handicap restrooms that were larger with me and just had him look the other way. I wouldn't say there is a set age but you will know when it is time. He was probably about 8 and then I stood outside the door. We did always try to find a family restroom but, obviously, that is not always an option. I do agree that lower trafic ares are a good place to start trying him out but he is still young.
I think if you are asking the question, then you have an intuition that he is ready to go into the men's room.
Now, When my boys stopped being comfortable in the women's room I let the go into the men's room, BUT i kept my foot in the door. I didnt look in and watch him and the other men, but I wedged the door open enough to allow for me to hear. Only a very few times did the other men complain- most said it was a great idea..... The ones that did look at me with disgust or annoience, I told them they could wait until my kid came out and do whatever they pleased.
Once a child is old enough to not only understand the difference between male and female, but to notice it and look for it it is innappropriate for them to go into the opposite sex's restroom. Kids look through cracks whether you want to believe it or not. If it is something you teach privacy for at home, you should be consitant in the public arena.
I wouldn't worry about what other people think when you take your little boy to the women's room. Most women understand. Some may not, but they have never been a mother of a little boy. I would start having talks with him about how to behave in the bathroom, etc...to start the transition. I would also open the door to the men's room and just ask "Is anyone in here" If no one is in there, then let him go and stand outside the door. You could even request of men going in the bathroom to wait just a few minutes because you have a little boy in there that you are waiting on and you may have to go into the bathroom to get him or help him....that's what I would say anyways - that I'm doing the man a favor, not the other way around.
BTW: I would never let my little girl or boy venture through a store and to the bathroom alone until they were 13 or older - at least. Just a note in response to the one posted before mine.
There are plenty of answers here, but I just had to add mine. Like another poster mentioned, there are stalls for the privacy of all ladies. Generally speaking, everything that needs privacy is done in there, and there should not be any problem with your son being there with you. I say take him til you dont wonder if you should or not. GL!
Well i let my son use the mens room when he was 9 but then some teens dunked his head in the toilet so i brought him into the womens room since and hes now 13 and i ignore the weird looks he gets or his complaints.
I have never minded little boys going into the ladies restroom with their mothers. I would still take him with you for now and depending on his maturity level, let him go into the men's room as he gets older with you standing outside. My little boy is only 2 and a half, so I don't have to worry about this yet!
In response to Jill, a ladies restroom and a men's restroom are completely different. While in the ladies room, the women are in stalls and you won't see anything unless you peek through. In a men's room, there are urinals in the open and men are exposed. I think it's comparing apples and oranges. If the bathroom is empty and the father takes the daughter into the men's room and stands outside so no other men go inside, I think that's perfectly acceptable.
You have to decide how much you can trust your son start slow use the family restrooms if you have them.I would also have his dad or another trusted male to take him in the first few times. He can let you know if he is comfortable alone. Also let him know you are waiting outside for him and that you will be waiting for him Good Luck!!L.
I think there is noting inappropriate about taking your young son into the ladies room with you. Your chief concern is his safety.
Having him with you in the ladies room can be just as discrete and private. Take him in, allow him to go into the stall by himself, help him wash his hands when he is done, and you are good to go. There are very rarely women outside of the stalls in various stages of dress or doing anything that your son should not see. All of the mothers and most other women will understand you having your child in the restroom. If they don't, who cares? Can you imagine how you would feel if something happened to your son in the mens' room. It just isn't worth it.
I think he is old enough to go by himself. If I were you I would just stand nearby to keep him safe. If anyone else goes in I would knock on the door and call out to your son to see what's taking so long and that will let the other person know someone is keeping an eye on him and that you are right there to raise an alarm if needed.
I also think women begin to get uncomfortable with an older boy in the restroom too. If the places you are going have a family restroom that might solve all your problems.
If your son is aware of strangers and the possible dangers of this situation then he should be fine.
I never care if there are boys in the bathroom. It's not much different from me being among family or friends in a house: there's a door and walls. Good enough for me.
Even before I was a parent, I got the drift. We've all heard awful stories about what can happen to kids of any age. If your son starts to complain about being embarrassed, point out all the other boys you see in there :)
You will be hearing from lots of moms like me who took them in the ladies restroom until they were definitely older than your son. I bet our son was 7 or 8 and he hated it, but it was not worth the risk. For the 1st year or two, I would stand guard very closely at the door and I wasn't concerned with what other men may think. If they were a father, they knew exactly what I was doing .. child security! We live in an upper scale area of town and about 2 months ago, an arrest was made at a local movie theater where a man was molesting boys in one of the restrooms. It happened a few times and they finally caught him. This just reinforces that security need by parents. You are doing the right thing by continuing to guard the door and/or share a stall.
I agree with Dee. Go with your gut feeling. I don't remember when I started letting my son go alone, but even when I did I would hover outside. An absolutely horrible story on the news about 15 - 20 years ago about a young boy going to a bathroom alone while his mother waited outside made my decision that it didn't matter if he was embarrassed or the other women didn't like it. When my husband or a male family member was with us, I always asked them to take him. I'm thinking he was around six before I started letting him venture in there alone.
I do not have a son yet and can only speak how I feel as a mom and one of the ladies in the ladies restroom. So with that said, no way would I let a 5 year old go alone to any restroom. Since perpetrators seem to appear in restrooms, I would just take my son with me to the ladies room and stand outside his door. Any ill looks would be answered by, I am sorry he is just big for his age.... And I personally would keep that up until he flat out refuses...longer if I can until around age 11. I also would coach him in the order of restroom activities, bathroom, hands water, soap and dry and immediate exit. Then pay attention to how long this takes... then when he does transition to own his own you will know how long to wait before busting in.
I think 30 years ago it would have been another story, but today you can never be too safe. If you have an ill feeling trust your gut and don't worry about what other people think. If it were me, my child would be by myside until he was old enough take interest in girls and felt odd about going in with me. I would continue having your very young minor go with whatever parent is present.
Best Wishes and Stay Safe,
As the mom of three boys, I understand! I had my boys in the restroom with me sometimes as old as 10. I don't care what other women in the restroom think. These are my children and it is my job to keep them safe. Besides there are stalls in women's restrooms and everyone has privacy. This is not the case with a men's restroom.
You have to use your judgement, but I would not let my 5 year old go to the men's room by himself in a public place where you don't know WHO would be in the restroom - for instance, our public library has a lot of homeless people who come in and out all day. I don't let my 7 year old go by himself there. I feel the same way at Wal-Mart or the mall or a large athletic stadium. At church or a smaller place where you are more aware of who is in there, I think it is okay. Any time you feel uneasy, take him with you. Don't worry about other women, they don't know you and they will get over it! Sometimes it was a little awkward with a 9 year old boy with me, but I just didn't feel right about the alternative. Now that my boys are older, it is nice that big brother can take little brother to the restroom!