Kids and Public Bathrooms
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For the past few summers I have brought my son with me into the
women's locker room at King pool when he gets ready for his swim
classes. This year he is seven and they have a rule that 7 year olds
*must* use the room corresponding with their sex. We were recently
barred from a family swim because I wasn't willing to let him go into
the men's locker room alone. My first thought was ''are these people
crazy?'' The man working there said my son had to go in alone and
they weren't required to supervise him. I'm considering giving him
swim lessons elsewhere this summer and am wondering a couple of
1. is this a rule at most public pools?
2. is this legal? who is legally responsible for my *unsupervised* minor child
he god forbid get hurt or victimized in the locker room?( I'm guessing since I
a waiver when signing him up for swim classes that the person responsible would
be *me*. --and thus I should be the one watching him)
3. Is there a way to get around this rule at king? --can I refuse to sign the
and still take him to swim?
4. what could the legal basis for this possibly be?
I'm justified, don't you think? I think my son would prefer to go
himself but it's one thing for him to go in a public men's bathroom
with me waiting outside and checking on him and yet *another* for me
to expect his safety in an unsupervised public locker room situation
where *any* male, whether child, teenager or adult, could be in there
with him, changing clothes and showering. Even if I weren't worried
about sex offenders, what if he slips in the shower? what if there is
an altercation w/ another boy? That doesn't seem so far-fetched to
me. I'm a pretty relaxed parent about most things, but I'm definitely
not willing to let him go into a men's locker room alone. I guess I
may be finding him other lessons. I find this incredibly unfair.
I was a competitive swimmer from age 5 and changed in locker
rooms without my parents from then on. I'm a girl, but boys did
the same thing in their locker rooms. Granted, this was in the
70s, but I think it's naive to think there are either more
people that prey on children now, or less people that preyed on
children then. Talk to your son and prepare him. Give him some
credit and independence - it will HELP him take care of
himself. Do you also tag along at recess when he's at school?
He can get in altercations then - probably more likely to do so
because he knows the kids. And you're worried about him
slipping and falling? That's starting to sound a little
hysterical on your part. He can slip and fall anytime, even if
you're standing right next to him.
And as a side note, as a woman, I would be very uncomfortable
changing in the locker room with your seven year old son in
there looking on. Not to be rude, but you know, it's not ALL
about you and your son.
The same 'rule' is stated for my neighborhood pool in El
Cerrito. There is no statutory code posted with the sign as
with other posted rules, so I take it to be an arbitrary
preference. There are other arbitrary preferences the pool
has, which I have decided myself to follow or not. My children
often want to wear noodles tied around their torso. When
seeing this the lifeguard typically whistles or shouts ''not
allowed''. I go over and remind him or her I am within arms
reach at all times. Reason always wins. It of course helps
too that I am a 44 yo man, and the lifeguard usually a 17 year
old kid. I'm let break the 'rules'. I view nonstatutory rules
as guides for behavior, not as absolutes. I'd prefer a child
of 7, 8 or even older feel comfortable alone in a changeroom,
over any potential discomfort I may feel with a 7 yo girl with
her father in the changeroom with me. If that's not the norm,
then I hope the child's parent will choose to make the decision
himself or herself, vs leaving all reason to a simple
I think that this is a pretty typical requirement at pools. As a
female swimmer, I do not particularly like it when older (7ish)
boys come into the lock room. I feel like they are old enough to
know what they are looking at, but not old enough to know they
shouldn't stare, and the mothers are usually too busy getting
them showered and dressed and doing the same for themselves that
they do not notice.
Not to belittle your concern, since I don't have a son and so
have never had this problem, I think that maybe you are building
up your worries too much. I think at 7, a child is ready for
this. I know it is probably hard to let go a bit and trust him in
this situation, but I really think it is quite safe. It's not
like he is not within ear shot of you. Stay by the door and let
him know you will be listening. You can call to him to ask if he
is ok. You are worried he might slip in the shower. Well, he
might slip on the playground, he might slip in the bathroom at
home, he might slip getting out of bed in the morning. He will be
ok. You are worried that he might have trouble with some other
boys in the locker room. Again, this is something he is likely to
encounter (and probably already has) at school, at the
playground, etc. If an actual brawl broke out, you would hear it
from outside the door. As far as sexual predators, you can warn
him about danger signs (but try not to make him paranoid about
any man in the locker room). I would imagine that the common MO
of a predator of a young child would be to make friends with them
first, and so you would obviously see if that was developing
since you will be waiting for him right outside the door. I'm not
familiar with King pool, but there is probably only one exit from
the locker room, so you don't have to worry about abduction.
Change swimming lessons. I would never ever send my 7
year old son into a men's locker room alone, period. I have
had several (now adult) family members be subjected to
molestation as children & teens, no way am I even going to
take a chance with my 7 year old. Young children in need of
help often trustingly approach adult strangers in settings
they are comfortable with (like a pool); 7 years old is just too
young to have good judgment about this.
The accidents etc. you describe as possibilties are likewise
a good reason not to do this.
The downtown Berkeley YMCA has a similar policy, only I think it
is ''over 5''. They also have some ''family changing rooms'' where
the entire family can go in together and change, but boys are not
allowed in the womens' locker room over a certain age. I believe
this is because many women and especially young women and girls
are just not comfortable taking their clothes off with boys
around. I have three sons, the youngest is 6. My boys started to
be modest about undressing in front of mom and others around the
age of 5 or 6. This seems like a natural time to give them the
responsibility to dress and undress themselves without mom to
help. I think a 7 year old is totally capable of changing out of
street cloths to a swimsuit and back. He is not going to get
''lost'' in the locker room - you are waiting for him and you can
follow up if there are unreasonable delays. You need to give him
the chance to grow up in this way now. He is not going to have
mom around always.
Yep. I hear you. Feel the same thing myself, and I'm concerned
because my son is very shy. So here's what I think we'll be
doing this summer: The towel cabana! I learned this at Canyon
Swim School where my son takes lessons. Sometimes he doesn't
mind going into the boys room, sometimes he does (and it's mostly
kids in there). The times he doesn't want to go in the boys
room, I take a towel and after drying him off make a sort of tent
around him where he can take off his suit and put on his
underpants and pants. Shirt too, but usually that's not a
problem. There. He's dry. He's changed. He's not showered,
but we can do that at home later.
another concerned mom
I know this doesn't really address all your various concerns,
but could you just have him change into and out of his suit at
home or even in the car, instead of at the pool? I sympathize
with your concerns -- at our pool, the age limit for using the
opposite gender's dressing rooms is 5. I guess mgmt's
reasoning is that other grownups might feel uncomfortable with
a child of the opposite gender around.
Naked is no big deal
Hi -- I also don't want my son in the men's locker room alone.
At El Cerrito Pool there is a unisex changing/shower room,
wheelchair accessible and open to one person/family at a time.
Try it! Pool's nicer than King, too.
mom of swimmer
It's just so interesting how different we all are, and how different things make
anxious, or not. I am generally a very anxious mom, yet my son started going by
himself into the Men's locker room at Willard pool when he was six? five? The
off age at Willard Pool is definitely younger than seven. Besides the pool's
age, the 11 and 12 year old girs began to feel uncomfortable with my son in the
locker room. When it is summer time and there are swim lessons happening, there
are just tons of kids and parents and teachers around and I geuss I just figure
is safety in numbers. There are always some people I know around. Usually one of
his teachers will keep an eye on him or check on him. If the locker room were
deserted, I might worry more.
Barring that - many parents I've seen bring their children in bathing suits and
them home that way too, even if wet.
While I completely sympathize with your situation - Really -
and if I had a son I would feel the same frustration about what
to do. I face this somewhat when my 6 year old daughter's
father takes her to swimming lessons and he can't help her with
a shower. On the other hand, as a mother to 2 girls, having
little boys over the age of 5 in the locker room makes both my
girls uncomfortable and I can't get them to take a proper
shower or change clothes unless there is a dressing room (which
often there is not). My pre-pubesent 10 year old will openly
declare she will not get undressed in front of a boy. So, I
guess it's time for a bit of creativity: Put your swimming
suits on before you go to the pool and just wear street clothes
on top to shed just before you go into the water. Or perhaps
swimming lessons can wait until Saturday when Dad can help with
the dressing room. As for other pools - We go to El Cerrito.
Their maximum age for a boy in the women's locker room is six.
But you also do not need to go through the locker room to get
to the pool and there is an outside shower to rinse off. I
really do understand your fears and frustrations, but I am also
glad 7 year old boys can't come into the women's locker room.
Mom of girls
Could you just have him wear his swimming trunks to the pool and
I'm with you on this one! I wasn't comfortable sending my son
alone into the men's locker room when he was that age, but he
wasn't allowed in the women's locker room with me. I think
the rules are reasonable to not let older boys into the women's
locker room because it may bother some of the women and girls
there, but that still didn't mean I wanted to send my son
into the locker room alone. (It's not that I think child
molesters are lurking behind every locker; it's more that
my son still needed help getting everything together at that age.)
The Berkeley YMCA downtown has ''family changing rooms'', so we
ended up taking swimming lessons there for several years. At
other places where we'd swim, if there were nobody to supervise
my son in the locker room I'd have him put his swim trunks on
under his clothes. Then after his swimming lesson, I'd just
wrap him up in towels and bring him home to change.
I know it seems challenging now, but it's a short time, and
pretty soon he'll be old enough to be alone in the locker room.
- Swimming Mama
Around every corner does not a child molester lurk. Take it
from someone who was very athletic and so spent years in locker
rooms of various kinds from the infamous YMCAs to public pools
to Catholic league basketball to junior and high schools sports
every season. I was also an altar boy and not once did a priest
try to molest me. My point is that your fears seem to be very
out of proportion to the reality of the situation. Consider
that your son will take about 3 minutes to change and you will
be right outside listening at the door and will have told him to
scream his bloody head off is anyone so much as looks at him
funny. Am I right?
The chances of something bad happening are infinitesimally
small, while the chances of something good happening are highly
likely. Your son needs to grow up, meaning cut the apron
strings. He needs to learn to do things on his own. He needs
to learn that the vast majority of strangers are in fact good
people and when they see your son changing to go swimming their
only thoughts will be a bit of reminiscing about their own
childhood down at the swimmin' hole laying in the sun butt naked
and goin' a'fishin'. A parent's job is to protect their child,
sure. But that does not mean never ever letting your child be
in a situation that could in any remote way be harmful.
Protecting your child means first and foremost teaching him how
to protect himself, and that he learns to go out in the big bad
world and make a way for himself. In my view, a parent who
overprotects harms her child as much a parent who
underprotects. Strive for an age appropriate balance.
At 7 I was riding my bike 3 miles sans helmet (people would have
laughed uproariously at the idea of wearing a helmet) on busy
streets to a public pool back and forth three times every day
(came home to eat). We were gone for hours climbing trees and
riding bikes all over hell. I now give my daughters little
independence tests. I will do something like have them take a
bus from near our house in very scary Richmond (not) , take BART
to Berkeley, watch a specific movie on their own, then go to
lunch at a certain restaurant on their own, intentionally ask a
stranger for directions even though they already know the way,
handle all the money on their own, but the BART ticket, and call
me from a public phone (I didn't allow them to have cell phones
until they were older) to come pick them up. True safety comes
from protecting yourself, not relying on others to protect you,
and your parents need to teach you that rather than take that
away from you.
We take our daughters to King for swimming lessons. I hear your
concern, but I think he will be okay getting changed in the
men's/boys' room. I know a lot of kids are in and out of the
locker rooms at the same time during swim lessons, if that makes
you feel any better. Also, when lessons happen, the only adults
around are the instructors and parents of children in lessons.
The pool isn't open to the larger community at that time. If
your boy takes longer than a few minutes to get changed, you
could ask a staff member, another boy or Dad to check on your
son. Or, if you feel more comfortable, you could have him sign
up for lessons with a friend, or you could have your son wear
his suit to the lesson and go home to change after the lesson.
Another thing to keep in mind: from a girls' perspective, it can
be uncomfortable when school-age boys are in the women's locker
room. Your son may seem young to be off on his own, but now's a
good time to talk with him about how to handle himself in
If it matters to you that much, bring your son to the pool
already dressed to swim, and take him home in his swim clothes
(towel-dried) and have him shower/change clothes at home. But
let him go to the boys bathroom by himself if he has to pee
(please don't send him into the bushes)! Yes, there's always a
chance that something bad can happen in a public place without
your direct supervision, but in my opinion, I think it's a
greater detriment to your son that you're not letting him learn a
bit of independence at seven years old.
Mom of boys
If your son is 7, he'll be fine in the locker room by himself. If
it's for swim lessons, there will be other kids there. I'm sorry,
but I do not think you are justified. I would feel EXTREMELY
uncomfortable dressing in front of a 7 yr old or older boy in the
women's locker room. I'm not even all that comfortable with it
when they come into the women's bathroom. If you are flat
dead-set against giving him the opportunity to just be normal in
the locker room changing into or out of his swimsuit, then have
him get in his swimsuit at home, and let him wear it wet before
he gets home. This does not seem like a big deal (in fact, it's
what I usually do at public pools just because it's quicker and I
like my very own shower!). You also mention that your son would
prefer to go by himself. Take your cues here. He's getting
bigger, and probably feeling horribly embarassed by your
insistence on watching every single move. He's growing up a
little bit. The world is not actually crawling with sex offenders
hanging out in public pool locker rooms waiting for 7 yr old boys
to come in. In fact, most locker rooms are pretty wide open--so
how could anything untoward happen without a lot of planning. And
I'd bet that other boys & men in the locker room are there to
swim. Altercations could happen anywhere, any time. It's not
about whether he's unsupervised for a moment. If he were to slip
in the shower (and I'm not sure why that would happen-does he
have a tendency to run in locker rooms??), I'm sure that he'd get
help immediately. ANYBODY can hear anyone yelling in most locker
rooms. Oh, and keep in mind that most sexual predators actually
KNOW their victims--not somebody they happen to see in a swim
suit. I think it's pretty common to have the boys go into the
male locker room, and I don't think you have a leg to stand on.
Furthermore, you will certainly draw attention to yourself as not
very relaxed, and you will probably humiliate your son. Have him
dress/shower at home if it truly bothers you, but otherwise
consider just giving him a little space to grow.
As a mom of two boys 3 and 6 1/2, I can totally understand yr
issues with sending yr son off to interact with a locker room
that is unsupervised.I'm sure plenty of Dads would like to go off
to the pool with their daughters and not have to worry about this
stuff too. I agree there should be an alternative, say a locker
room attendant. I think in your son's best interest and
yours(because it's clearly putting a damper on something you both
probably love to do) how about this: UNTIL YOU CAN RESOLVE THIS
DIPLOMATICALLY AND STRUCTURALLY, come completely dressed for
swimming on arrival. King does have side doors. Ask to use them
if they are not accessible. Deal with being wet on departure.
Shower at home. DO NOT IMPACT YOUR SON'S ABILITY TO DO WHAT'S
GOOD FOR HIM. Remember he's asking to go off in the locker, maybe
b/c he wants the independence, maybe b/c the fuss yr raising,
right or not, is hard for him. Continue to move up the City of
Berkeley Dept of Rec chain of command(you don't think those
teenagers who work at the pools have any control over what
they've been told is the Rule, do you? of course not. They should
have been more concerned for sure and worked with you but if they
won't, maybe someone else will) I'm sure you can make an impact,
but you should always do what's right for yr family and
everyone's comfort level is different. Hope I didn't sound harsh.
I really do support yr feelings that this should be different. I
generally think Uppity is a quality to aspire to, but it can be
hard for our children to be around when they just want to fit in
and have fun.
Another Riled Up Mama
Yes, you are out there on this one - Might be more your issue
than your son's. Come to terms with it or find a pool with
family changing rooms (good luck). This is the rule at most
public pools where cut off age is often 5. King Pool is
actually more lenient than others.
By the way, at 7 your son's presence may soon,if it isn't
already, make the girls uncomfortable, and soon after that, it
may be downright inappropriate. So is that okay to impose your
fears on the girls' privacy? And how will your son soon feel
having to go with you into the GIIIIRLS locker room.
Also, it is really a men AND boys locker room at King, as the
one on the other side is the women AND girls. The folks at King
pool are generally very cool. My husband, our men friends and
boys we know who used the pool have never reported any problems
with weirdos at the pool, nore have they reported floors being
anymore slippery than usual (the male locker room floor is
probably not any more slippery than the female locker room
floor). I'm sure if your son yelled for help, that you (waiting
outside the door) and others would hear easily and immediately.
Even if he is with you, how do you prevent him from slipping on
the floor? So that question is moot, in my mind.
Yes it is legal to segregate the two sexes in this way (in my
non-legal opinion). Your unsupervised kid is porbably very able
to handle himself in there. You can't watch him all the time.
What age have you set as a cut off to allow him to be in a
locker room alone? It is lovely that you care so much about him
and do so want to protect him.
Hey my girls go through the girls locker room when their Dad is
taking them to swimming and they've never had a problem. They
just take longer getting ready. Sometimes a parent of one sex
will ask an adult that is the same sex as their kid to go and
check on their kid to see how they are doing. They have always
been fine (just dawdling!)
I strongly urge you to check out a Kidpower class for you and
your kid. They do a great job teaching safety for kids (to kids
and their loving adults), in a non scary way. It teaches them
how to deal with the situations that you sound like you are
fearing most. Doing this might ease your fears, might help you
give him some room to grow, and might help you have more
confidence in his ability to take care of himself for a few
minutes on his own. In this way you are less likely to damage
his own self-confidence.
So please have more faith in your son and in King Pool folks.
It is a fabulous place and the staff are pretty darn good, too.
Best of luck in working through this.
I think you are absolutely justified and you don't need to
explain yourself to anyone. You are his mother and you want to
supervise him in the locker room. End of story. The policy seems
stupid and prudish in the extreme.
agree with you on this
I appreciate your nervousness about your 7-year-old son using the
boys' locker room. However, you need to look at this from the
perspective of the girls (and women) in the locker room. My
10-year-old girl (who is beginning to develop) is quite unhappy
with the presence of boys in the locker room. Sure, an adult can
say, ''he's only 7,'' but to a girl who isn't that far from his
age, boys (past kindergarten) in the locker room are a problem.
The other side of this, is you are assuming that the older boys
and men in the locker room are dangerous to your son, rather than
at the pool in order to swim themselves.
If the set up at King makes you too nervous, there are some
places, like the Berkeley Y, that have family changing rooms
where parents can help children dress privately (no showers, alas.)
mother of a swimmer
Honey, I wouldn't be calling other people crazy. Lets look
at this from MY perspective (38-year-old woman with school age
daughters) and probably that of most other women/girls in the
locker room. Quite frankly, I do not want your school age son
(who probably giggles when he sees girls underpants) in the
locker room with me while I am naked or my girls are naked. Can
you imagine if they go to school together? How would my girls
feel? Heck, how would I feel? Kinda creepy...Oh, and ALL
pools/gyms that I go to limit the upper age for boys to ages 3 or
4 to be in the woman's locker room.
Also, I think that most of your concerns about the changing in
the men's locker room are pretty far fetched. I have never
slipped in the shower in my entire life (just asked my husband,
and he says 'ditto.'). I have never witnessed weird altercations
such as you suggest between primary age boys who have been in
contact with each other for five minutes and have never met
before in their lives and are just trying to put on their
Some ideas for you: dress your son in his trunks before he comes
and let him ride home in his wet suit, then let him shower at
home OR call around to a bunch of pools to find one that has a
'family' dressing room.
-just normal, not unfair...
Actually, the 7-year-old limit is very generous. We belonged to
the Hills Club in Oakland--a fairly nice private pool--and their
age limit was 5 years old. You have a lot of options, including
going elsewhere...but I seriously doubt you'll find *any* pools
that will allow a 7 -year-old-boy into a women's locker room.
What about the girls in there!!?? My 8-year-old daughter would
FREAK OUT if a boy around her age saw her naked! It would be a
total violation of the privacy and safety SHE should be able to
feel in a changing room.
-- Don't have him change at the pool. Bring him and take him home
in his trunks, and have him shower at home. Or have him change in
the car while you stand guard.
-- If there are outdoor showers for hosing off, have him rinse
off outside in his trunks and do a surfer's change (towel around
waist, drop drunks, put on pants)
-- Let him do it. You said yourself he wants to go in the locker
room himself. You could tell him to shower in his trunks then go
straight to a toilet stall to change.
-- Enroll him in swimming with a friend so they can go in
together. Safety in numbers.
We had to do all of the above at one point or another because my
son didn't want to be alone in the locker room at age 5.
Eventually, he got used to it and did fine.
I think 7 is about the right age for him to handle it. From the
sound of things, you've probably scared him enough about
strangers that he'll be on his guard.
I, too, think this rule is very silly--and dangerous. Exactly what do they think a
year-old boy is going to do in a women's locker room that is worth expelling them
to the men's unsupervised? Unfortunatley, I don't know much about the legality of
However, one suggestion I have for you is to find a child in your sons' swim class
whose dad takes them, and ask him to watch your son. If the man happens to have
a daughter, perhaps you could watch his daughter.
I too have a 7 yr old son and am uncomfortable when he goes
into the mens locker room. The pool we use is in a park complex
heavily used by homeless people (not to malign the homeless -
but would you want your 1st grader maybe be alone with them?).
I have been at pools where there are family changing rooms -
definitely a great solution. Where we swim now there is a rule
that over 6 they go into same sex locker rooms. Last fall when
we moved here I protested and the staff let me take him (& my
daughter) in the women's locker room (just to change and I
didn't have them linger much). Now my son wants to use the
men's locker room. I don't want to make him uncomfortable by
forcing him to go through the womens'.
With both of my kids I bring them to the pool in their suits
(when I can) and take them home wet and put them straight into
the shower. I figure I save at least 20 minutes by having them
shower at home when I can get busy with dinner or something.
And for the respondents who are concerned with boys staring - I
too don't like it. My son does know what he is seeing, he
bathes with his 8 yr old sister. They have always bathed
together, they have a great time, and they don't see anything
strange about having different ''parts'' (they do think it is
interesting - but not strange). We live in a very small house
and pretty much all see each other. I noticed that he was
starting to look but it was not to try to figure out ''what are
all those strange female things.'' I think it was what we all
experience, not anything about the ''parts'' that we all have but
that everyone's bodies are so different that it is kind of
facinating. Because of that, I was relieved when he started
insisting on going through the men's locker room - but still
worried. Since he doesn't change or shower in it I just tell
him to walk through quickly.
In response to the many people who said that the chances are so
small of there being a sexual predator...my basic MO is 1. With
my kids, if I don't have to take a chance, I don't take it.
(keeping reasonable tabs on being over protective of course)
another concerned & modest mom
As a regular public pool swimmer, let me emphasize that no, you
are not justified in bringing your 7 year old son into the
women's locker room. This is common practice at most pools,
many have a younger age cut off. If you are uncomfortable
with him using the men's locker room, then have him take care
of all business at home, change in the car, whatever, or find
another facility where you will be comfortable with him using
the men's room by himself. It's unreasonable to expect the
other locker room users to accommodate your personal issues.
Frankly, I don't think any boy over 4 belongs in the women's
locker room. And just for the record, I have 2 sons so yes,
I've lived through this issue. Not only do I object to young
boys in the women's locker room, I particularly object to women
who bring older boys into the women's locker room, then the
women go hide in the toilet stalls to change while the boys
stare at the rest of us.
boys belong in the men's room
After reading responses from women with sons in Women's
restrooms, I'm wondering what dads with daughters do??? I won't
want to take my daughter into the Men's restroom, and at least
until she's old enough, I won't want her to go alone into the
Women's restroom either! What do you guys do????
--Wondering in Advance
not to worry. my daughter is now 7 1/2. i have been taking her
into men's restrooms since she was a baby and no one has ever said boo
about it. a while back she started going into the women's restrooms
WITH HER FRIEND. of course i watched the door very carefully when they
first did that and was very relieved when they came out. now i'm more
relaxed about it.
when it's just the two of us, it is now about 50/50; half the time
she'll come with me into the men's room, half the time she elects to go
on her own into the women's. of course i still watch the door when she
chooses the latter, but i am pretty relaxed and comfortable with it.
but as far as taking her with me into the men's? never have i
worried about this for one second or had any problem whatsoever. most
of the men and boys we encounter inside understand the situation and
some are even friendly and seem glad to see her. all act as though she
has the same right to be there that they do (which she does, of course).
I have two daughters, ages 5 3/4 and 3 3/4, and I'm familiar with your
situation. I just take them into the men's room with me.
Sure, the men's restroom is often smellier than the ladies' (so my
daughters tell me), but whatever. Nobody seems to care, really. I see
lots of fathers do this. I also take them to the boys' locker room when
we go swimming at the YMCA. I know that girls over 6 are supposed to go
to the girls' locker room, but whatever. Nobody seems to care. I don't
worry about exposing my daughters to male genitalia. Being in the boys'
locker room so much, I think they've seen enough for there to be no
Are you uncomfortable with ''exposing'' your daughter?
Personally, I don't see any problem with it.
Paul, daddy with two
We have a 31/2 year old daughter, who I have been taking care of (sahd)
for the past 3 years. I generally don't worry about taking her into a
men's room with me if she needs to go. We just go into one of the stalls
and I stay with her until she's done. We've gotten a coupple of odd
looks but since we don't really have an alternative,(and I don't think
that it would be okay for me to take her into the woman's room) I'll
just continue to do this until she's old enough to go herself.
Until I was five or six, I always went into the bathroom (or the shower
room at the pool) with whichever of my parents was present. Spending
time in men's and women's rooms was a good
lesson: everybody's bodies are different, but everyone goes to the
bathroom to do more or less the same thing. (Also that urinals, though
they look cool, can be pretty gross.)
I think the key is to be confident in what you're doing, so that if
someone asks why you're bringing your daughter into the men's room,
you're not put on the defensive. You can just state it as family policy:
''my daughter always has one of her parents with her when she goes into
If you go along with the ''conventional wisdom''--whether you agree with
it or not--that appears on BPN, that male strangers are predators and
perverts (the basis for most mothers' fears about sending young sons
alone in public men's rooms), and female strangers are motherly and
nurturing. So according to this ''conventional wisdom'', you can send
your daughter (you didn't say how old) into the public women's restroom
by herself and in fairly good confidence hope that some motherly
nurturing woman/women will look out for her while she's in there.
My husband takes our three-year-old daughter to the Hilltop Y
to go swimming, which she loves. She also loves taking a
shower afterwards! We want to know if there is an age when
girl children should no longer be allowed in the men's
lockeroom. He isn't uncomfortable with it, she doesn't care,
but the issue is at what age is it no longer acceptable.
I see boys in the women's bathroom and showers until they are 6
years old (Of course, some of them are beginning to grumble
about it, too). As long as dad is very attentive (i.e., she is
not left alone for a moment) and she still loves it, I say why
not let the same standard stand for little girls as for little
boys? Perhaps you will get some advice about what age small
children can ''remember'' things and that's when the showers
should stop. Deciding on such an age is unreliable and
probably not a good criterion to base a decision on anyway. I
recall well how much fun it was to take a shower with my father
(I remember only coming up to his knees quite distintively
while standing in the shower!). When I was a teenager or
adult, I mentioned this to my mother. She said my father
abruptly stopped letting me take showers with him literally on
my second birthday because he thought I was too old and would
remember (It turns out I have quite a few ''independent''
memories prior to my second birthday, so such early memories
are not unusual for me). However, I do in fact remember and I
remember that it was a fun thing to do with my dad (and I do
remember all his anatomy, although he would probably die of
embarrassment now if I told him this as an adult since he
thought I was too young to remember and he is a bit shy about
such things!). And, with my father being the only man in the
house, I think it was healthy for me to innocently see the
differences between boys and girls, not to mention simply
having a fun activity to share with dad.
So, back to your case:
As long as dad and daughter are comfortable (which likely also
is influenced by how comfortable the other men in the locker
room are), I see no harm in continuing
(with vigilance) until
it no longer is a comfortable situation. I would imagine that
it will not be that difficult to tell when someone is
uncomfortable, and therfore I wouldn't make an arbitrary
decision -- i.e., one that is not already socially acceptable
for little boys in women's locker rooms -- before that time.
What advice to people have about how a Dad can deal with
toileting with a toddler girl who is in the process of potty
training? If he is with her all day outside of the home, each
of them will have to use the toilet. How should he use a public
restroom when he needs to bring her in the stall with him? How
should he help her to use the toilet when they must go in a
I was worried about this too. My husband is in charge of our 3
year old daughter one day a week and there is no getting around
the potty problem. Occasionally they find a ''family bathroom''
or a single unisex potty room, but most of the time he has to
take her into the men's room. She was very concerned about
this, but we assured her that it was OK, since she has to go to
the potty with an adult. She is getting used to it. My
husband just tries to choose the quieter, cleaner bathrooms and
quickly whisks her into a stall - they are all the same anyway.
I hope that potty thing doesn't get into the way of daddies and
daughter getting around together. Some ideas...
Many cafes, small restaurants, and same stores have little mixed
bathrooms, which both dad and daughter can use (at the same time).
If she refuses to go on a men's bathroom, she could use a travel
potty (for example ''Potette'', you get that at Baby World or at
Longs). It comes with liners, but you could as well buy a
matching tupperware with lid that can be emptied into the
canalisation or a bathroom (for #2). The traditional is ''to go
behind the bushes'', and clean up like you would do with a dog,
but that's probably a bad idea for fathers.
As to bringing a girl into a bathroom with other men in it, I am
not sure either. Would the other men be offended? Would your
daugher feel intimidated? This all depends on the design of
men's bathrooms which I don't know very well.
A similar thing: Moms have to take their sons into locker rooms
at the swimming pool until they are Kindergarten age or so.
They can watch all the other women naked there, and they can see
him naked. I think it's no problem and certainly not a big deal,
but maybe other people feel different.
My son turned 5 years-old last month. Whenever he and I are together in public and
he has to use the restroom, I bring him into the women's restroom with me. He is still
a young boy and I am not comfortable sending him into the men's restroom by
himself, even if I were to stand outside of the men's restroom. Yet, I am astounded by
the inappropriate looks I get from women when I bring him into the women's restroom
with me. I would like to find out how other mothers handle these ackward glances
from other women. Am I being overprotective? Also, when should a young boy use
the men's restroom if he is by himself?
Many public pools use 6 as cut off age. Frankly, I think it
should be less of an issue in women's restrooms since there are
always private stalls. But some of those stuffy department
stores have crabby ladies who don't even like moms to nurse in
the ''ladies lounge.'' I'd be more uncomfortable if I were a dad
bringing a young girl into men's room.
Fortunate to have child with a bladder of steel
Personally, I am mystified by rules barring, and social
disapproval of, young boys in women's restrooms. I am not
comfortable with sending him alone into a men's restroom; I
simply won't do it. I make sure that he behaves appropriately
in the women's restroom, and ignore any dirty looks that come my
I'm With You
Of course you should bring a 5 year old into the women's
restroom with you. I could not imagine sending a child that
age into a men's room (unless my husband took him in there).
If someone gives you a look, ignore them. If they say
something to you, simply respond ''I'm so sorry if you are not
comfortable with my son using the stall in here. I'm sure you
understand the need for safety precautions and how
irresponsible I would feel putting my 5 year old alone in a
room full of adults whom I don't know and where I can't see
Give them a weak smile and proceed to do what you need to do.
The doors close so I cannot understand what their rational
concern could be.
Mom who brings her 7 year old son too
I think a 5 year old should still go into the women's room with
you. My son is almost 4, and I can't see being comfortable with
sending him into a public restroom alone, any time soon. I don't
think twice when I see a 5 year old in the women's room.
I can't speak to WHEN it would start being inappropriate, though.
I take my 7 years old son with me to women's bathroom whenever possible, and
have never noticed any looks from others. Maybe I am insensitive,,, or too
caring my children. He sometimes go to men's bathroom by himself but if he
to go number 2 he still wants to go with me to women's restroom. Whenever he
goes to men's restroom, I feel very worried. You just never know what kind
people are inside. I even ask some guys walking inside to see how he is
by saying so, especially if the person asked is also a father of young
does look after my son while inside the bathroom. In all cases so far, he
is fine. I
am not probably even embarrased to go inside men's bathroom if my son shouts
and calls my name from inside. I need to make sure he is safe.
Mom of two busy young boys
My son is nearly 10 and I still often take him into the bathroom
with me - because when I don't, he comes in to get me anyway!
Seriously, I think I only recently allowed him to go by himself
and I don't really care what anyone else thinks. He is respectful
in the bathroom - women's bathrooms have stalls w/doors so there
is no big deal there.
I think you may be projecting your own self-consciousness about
this onto the other women - I honestly have never noticed anyone
staring and no one has EVER commented on this.
In any case, I would think 5 is still young enough to go in with
you. You could go by the 48 inch rule at amusement parks.
My son is my baby forever
I have three sons, and my youngest is 5. I wouldn't dream of
sending him off to the men's room by himself. Maybe when he's 6
or 7. My older boys started to feel uncomfortable around that
age and asked to use the men's, so then it was a few years of me
hovering outside the men's bathroom door wringing my hands and
fretting if they were gone for more than 2 minutes. I have never
noticed any dirty looks in the women's room except for one time a
teenaged girl gave me a dirty look when I walked in with my
5-year-old. I was surprised! Just an issue of immaturity. One
day she will be fretting about this herself.
Just keep doing what you're doing!
My son will be 6 in July and I still take him to the women's
restroom when my husband is not with me to take him to the Men's
Room. I don't particularly care what other people think about
this, he is my child and it is my job to protect him. Sexual
predators are known to hang out in bathrooms waiting for their
next victim, and I'll be damned if my son will be the one! I've
told my son that he could go to the men's restroom by himself
when he is 7 or 8, and he was okay with it. Trust your gut and
don't let the stares bother you.
My son is 7 1/2 and I still often bring him into the women's room with me and
never noticed any odd ''looks.'' However, I many not be sensitive as you are
but I'm not
comfortable having my son go into a men's room alone. He will sometimes
go to the men's room by himself and when that happens I let him, giving
directions to wash hands, leave as soon as he is done, etc. I don't think you
overprotective at all. I think five is to young to use a men's room on his
own and not
only because of sexual predators but they get distracted easily and lose
track of time.
I really wouldn't give a hoot about anybody's dirty looks. In
my experience, most women understand why moms keep their kids
with them, and if they don't, well...''F 'em.'' But at some point
soon, your son is probably going to start feeling uncomfortable
in the women's room. My 6 1/2 year old has been using the men's
room for about a year. It was his choice, not mine, he just
suddenly stopped feeling comfortable in the women's room and
liked the independence of going to the men's room by himself. I
just stand outside and look at my watch and if it ever feels
like it's taking a long time I yell in and ask if he's okay, or
ask a man coming out to give me a report. It's a rite of
passage, like anything else, nerve-wracking at first but fine
when you're used to it. Any place really sketchy, I still make
him come with me.
I'm curious to see what people say. I have a five year old boy and have no
allowing him into a men's room on his own anytime soon. My husband is in
agreement with me on this. While I've not had the experience of women
surprised/disturbed to see our son in the bathroom with me, I wouldn't care
if I did.
As my husband said, ''I'd rather err on the side of caution than have
that I couldn't reverse.'' In some instances, I've gone into the men's room
with him -
not the big, multi-stall kind, but the single use ones.
My son will be six in a few weeks, and he always accompanies me
into the women's restroom. I've never thought twice about this---
I haven't noticed any looks from other women, whether I've ever
received any or not---and to be honest, I don't really care what
other people think about my son being in the restroom. I
wouldn't dream of sending him into a men's room on his own any
more than I'd send him away with perfect strangers (male or
female) to pull his pants down. And I don't know what
the ''normal'' age is for little boys to use the men's room
unaccompanied, but I have no plans to do it in the near future.
My guess is the women who are looking at you funny are the same
ones who say little boys shouldn't wear dresses or girly shoes,
and those aren't the people I'd take parenting advice from.
As parents, it's often hard to deal with other people's
disapproval over any issue, but if the only question in your
mind is whether other people find your decision socially
acceptable or not, I say stand up for your instincts and ignore
You are absolutely in the right. It is perfectly fine for you to bring him
women's restrooms (if it were a father with a daughter it would be different,
women's there are only stalls). If someone gives a look, just shrug it off,
someone looks at your son and he notices, glare at them with your ''don't you
even THINK about looking at my kid like that'' look. It is best to bring
seven or eight, depending on maturity level. It's not overprotectiveness,
I still take my 7-year old son into women's restrooms in
airports, sports stadiums, museums, etc. Everything is very
private (stalls for toilets), so I don't think twice about it.
He is well-behaved and not peering under stalls or staring at
people. I believe it is my job to keep him safe, so I don't
worry about it. However, at our swim club where women are
changing clothes out in the open, I have him go into the men's
dressing room as he is at the age where he will stare at
women's bodies. I feel this is a different situation because
there are not private changing areas. At the same time, this
is a family club where I am comfortable having him go into the
dressing room. I don't know what I would do at a large public
pool where I didn't know the people or layout well. Bottomline
is that I would follow my gut feelings and do what I think was
the safest thing for my young son and handle any complaints
if/when they came up.
Safe not Sorry Mom
My son is 9 and started using the mens room when he was bout 7.
If I can find a family bathroom I have him use that. Ignore the
nasty looks....they must not have kids or they would understand.
When my son uses the mens bathroom I have him talk the whole
time he is in there. He either tells me jokes or a story or
something. When he was younger I would have him say the ABC's
or count to whatever big number he could get to. I told him if
he stops I am coming in!!! I also keep a mental description of
everyone who goes in and out of the restroom and how long they
take. (If I was a man doing this outside the womens room I am
sure I would be arrested!!!!)
I would just ignore looks. We've only ever gotten any looks from little girls
in the bathroom at the same time. I think most women (esp. mothers)
the desire to protect children.
This is a very personal decision that you get to make about your son's
you're comfortable and your son is comfortable, then that's the thing to do.
In our case, our son started going into the men's room between 7 and 8 years
My older son is seven and when I am out without my husband I
still bring him in the restroom with me if we are in a place
that is too public (lots of people going in and out) or when I
have to go too and can't be outside the door waiting for him. I
started letting him go by himself occaisionally when he was six.
I will sometimes let him go with his younger brother who is
four, but again only if I can stand right outside and it isn't
too busy. Usually if the two of them go in it takes about five
times as long as if one goes alone or they go with me. I think
they are playing with the water at the sinks. (OK, I hope that
is what they are doing.) When my older one is on his own I ask
him if he is just going to pee or needs to poop too, and then
give him a time limit. Personally, I don't know if I have gotten
and dirty looks and would ignore them if I could. My son is
using a toilet behind a closed door, and so are the other women.
He doesn't pee on the seat, look under the stall walls or doors
and is usually in my company in the handicapped stall since you
can't fit three people in a regular stall. The only time he can
see them, or they him, is at the sink washing hands which
doesn't have to be a single sex activity, and that is the end of
that for now.
I've been trying to decide how old is too old. My first reaction
is 8 or 9. I will amend that to, when they are old enough to be
embarassed too, but only if they also have enough sense to
recognize danger and behave on their own. And I probably will
still be waiting outside the door until he is bigger than me!
mom of 2 boys
I say ignore the awkward glances, a five year-old boy IS too
young to go to the men's room alone (unfortunate in this day
and age, but true.) Your son's safety is more important than
When my 10 year old stepson was in town, I took him into the woman's restroom
me. It's more important for me to know he is ok than to worry about others.
should not give you disapproving looks. If they do, ignore them. Five years
old is fine
to bring into the ladies restroom. Our world isn't always safe and we must
do what is
necessary to protect our children. I think strange looks is better than a
Perhaps it is because I am so busy with the two year old and the
five year old (both boys) I have never noticed any bad looks from
other women in the restroom. I think you should continue to take
you son in the restroom with you. I do--and will until he is
seven or eight, at least. My son is very mature and polite
(well, you know five year olds) but I would never let him go to a
restroom by himself. If his dad isn't there then he goes with me
into the ladies' room. Don't worry what other people think!
Keep your kids safe and do what you feel best about. These other
people aren't the mama of your son!
I am the dad of a 6.5 year old girl, and if I am alone with her
at a restaurant, gas station, wherever, I will generally take her
into the men's room. I have never experienced any grief with
this. I also will take her into a single-stall women's room (for
example, the one at Picante restaurant) rather than wait for the
one-person men's room, if she really has to ''go'' badly. I've
gotten a couple of stares when I walk out of a women's room with
her, but I just don't care that much. No one has ever given me
any real problem about it. I wouldn't worry about it - my feeling
is, the world is full of woe, and if this is anyone's big
problem, well, I just put in in perspective!
You are not being overprotective, but you might be oversensitive to these
''inappropriate looks''. Forget them! You know very well and so would they if
thought about it, that a 5 year old boy can not go in the men's room by
you must, or if someone actually says something to you, just tell them that.
see what the big deal is at all--contrary to the men's room, everyone in the
room is in their nice little stall and there is no way your son would see
untoward. If you want to avoid the situation further, scout out those
''family restrooms'' that are at the mall, the zoo, etc, or places with
like some cafes and smaller businesses.
We're in the same situation. And to boot, my son is very tall
and looks a couple years older than his five years. But he's
really not ready to go by himself into the men's bathroom. Some
places we know have strict age limits, like four or five. So
far, I've only rarely had to deal with other women who are upset
by seeing my son in the bathroom. Maybe that's because I try not
to make eye contact withh other people in the bathroom, but get
in, do our business, and get out again. Once, however, I had a
woman come up to me and basically cuss me out--in front of my
son--for bringing him into the bathroom. I then checked with
management and found out that we were within their age
restrictions, so I tried to let it go. I think if I encounter
someone who gets upset again, I'll just look them straight in the
eye and ask them in this day and age how old they think a young
boy should be to take care of himself by himself in the men's
room? And then just keep doing what we're doing. I'm not sure
how long I'll be taking my son into the women's bathroom,
probably another year or two given that my son is shy and doesn't
want to be left alone. I have a feeling that this is going to be
another one of those issues--like finally putting changing
stations in men's rooms--that management will have to help us
find a solution to. Some places have co-ed bathrooms or ''family''
bathrooms for families with young kids. I look for those.
Don't like it either
I agree with all the other posters that your child's safety is
paramount. The only time I think it might be an issue is at a
changing room kind of place (like a pool). But in places like
that, that often have age limits for children of the opposite
sex, they should also have some single room option for you to
use. In any case, one way to avoid any stares is to ask if they
have single room bathrooms where you can take your son with you.
I am about to start potty training and am unsure how to deal
with using public toliets. All the product reviews for folding
seat covers are terrible and I don't want to use disposables.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Cheers!
Sometimes too much info is a bad thing. For example, only people
that had some tragic accident would bother writing a product
review of a $5 folding potty seat. Ours worked great. When our dd
was just first potty trained (at 1.75 years) we just toted the
baby bjorn potty in a shopping bag, but when she was comfortable
going at home on the potty with a little seat, we started toting
the folding thing around. After awhile, we just skipped it and
put down the paper cover (if available) and held her so she
didn't fall in. I'd recommend trying to get your child used to
using the big potty with the seat as soon as possible, because if
going from diapers to the little potty is a big improvement,
going from the little potty to the big flushing potty is the
greatest thing ever.
If there's seat covers I use those and hold her while she's
sitting on the toilet. And if not, I make seat covers using
the toilet paper. When traveling in cars, I place a doggy
training pad on her car seat for her to seat on top of in case
of accidents. Many new malls now have family rooms with
toddler size toilets and seat covers.
We keep a small plastic Baby Bjorn potty in the back of our car
for emergencies. If it is pee, just throw in a toilet...or a bush
and wipe down.We have boys, so now if they have to pee, they
don't actually touch anything and I don't usually break out the
back-up potty. But if it is poop, we either dump in the toilet
and then wash out, or wrap a plastic bag around it to poop into
until we can dispose of the poop properly.
public bathrooms creep me out too
I just plop my kids on the potty or hold them over it if it looks
nasty. I am 39 and haven't caught anything from a toilet. My
kids are doing okay so far.
-not too worried.
I always carried one of the small, one-piece, molded plastic Baby Bjorn
me...ALWAYS. Similar ones can be found often at various Dollar stores. I
just found it
easier than dealing with the possible and potential disasters of public
My daughter recently turned 2 so we are gearing up for potty
training. While I have a number of anxieties about this, I
recently had a real scare. She and I were taking a walk along
the Bay and I needed to find a toilet. What we found were a
couple of those portable outhouses. Luckily for us we had a
''best case scenario'' in that one was large (wheelchair) and very
clean. Even still, I didn't want my daughter to touch anything
(I can't imagine that working in a normal sized outhouse) and
there I stood staring at a hole over a large vat of human waste.
So how do people deal with public toilets, both indoors and
outhouse, as far as cleanliness and hole size? I can imagine
several things such as carrying a small toilet or even seat
along, but we won't always have those. Or maybe holding her
suspended over the hole, but then where do her feet/pants dangle?
And even if that worked with urinating, I am guessing that for
poop she would need a more comfortable seating arrangement.
I feel like I should be looking forward to ending diapers but I'm
Scared to Potty Train
**You're going to go into the restroom with her for a long time
from now forward; she won't be solo.
**You'll almost always wipe the seat first, thanks to all those
parents who hold their kids above the seat and don't clean the
**Bring backup wipes along - you never know when you're stuck
with a porta potty.
Oh, also... despite germ gross out and toileting learning curves,
you will naturally relax a little as time goes on. Children take
a few years to learn how to wipe really well, but of course, you
have to let them do it themselves at some point; otherwise you
will end up with 5 year olds yelling to the end of the house
''Someone come wipe me!''. At some point, you just do your best and
know your kid will perform less than perfect wiping for awhile.
Try not to think about it. It is sorta gross. You will also learn
to give your HOME toilet seat a good looking at before sitting on
it, as aim is not always perfect in children either.
Squeezes eyes shut and makes sure they bathe regularly.
I'm the mom of 5 yr old and 3 yr old girls, so have been dealing
with this for a few years now...and I'm a clean-freak! First,
calm down, you're thinking about all the right things...and as
long as there's toilet paper, you'll be fine. Tell your daughter
the basics about not touching anything in a public
restroom--''germs are like tiny little bugs we can't see, and
they're dirty. There are lots of germs in public bathrooms''. Or
something like that.
Then, use a seat cover, if available, or cover the seat with TP
if not. You can lift her up and set her on the seat, and hold
her there. Neither of my girls had a problem going #1 or #2
(that only happens rarely, though--they usually prefer to poop at
home) while I'm holding them. Yes, their dress or pants might
touch the front of the toilet, but hey, that's what washing
machines are for...
And I can't say enough about that waterless hand cleaner--Purell,
or any generic form of it (Safeway, Albertsons, Longs & Walgreens
have their own brands which are cheaper and exactly the same).
We have numerous bottles of it all over the house, and in the car
and diaper bag. I have a tiny bottle in each stroller and in my
purse, fannypack, etc. We are never without the stuff. It makes
me feel so much better when I can squirt that in my kids' hands
after an encounter with a public toilet (sink or not--sometimes I
just want to get my 3 year old out fast (she still tries to touch
too many things in public restrooms), so we forego the sink and
use the ''special stuff'' instead.) Another tip--scope out public
restrooms around town (in stores, restaurants...), and try to
plan your trips around the cleanest ones.
We've just gone through this phase and I too dreaded having to
use often yucky public toilets. I recommend having the fold-up
toilet seat with you as much as possible, as it really helps to
be able to whip it out at a moment's notice. When you are caught
without it--which we know will happen--you end up holding your
child while they try and poop. Not as comfortable, but it has
worked for us.
It seems our ''diaper bag'' is bigger now than when my child was
in actually diapers because we not only carry the fold-up potty
seat, but a spare pair of underpants, pants and socks (yes, they
can get mighty wet in an accident). We always have a spare pull-
up too in case our son is just too tired to make it to the
toilet, has diarrhea, or we end up on a long drive for nap
Good luck mastering the logistics, it won't seem as difficult in
a few months.
My two year old was potty trained at 22 months, and we use a
foldable toilet seat for public places. They can be purchased at
BabiesRus. She was not able to use it the first time, but had no
problem from then on. She really likes ''her potty seat'' and it
folds small enough for me to carry in my purse. As for touching
things in the restroom, I have no answer, she has touched the
most disgusting things. We use lots of soap after.
happy with seat
Hi there - my best buy ever was a portable, foldable potty
seat. It fits on any toilet and you know it's clean - just
keep it in a ziploc bag and then clean it when you get home.
Here's a link, search for Folding Potty Seat
Good Luck - using public toilets is not that scary!
I was reading all the postings about the
Mom & Dad disagreeing on safety
issues, and I have a related question of my own. All the opinions
expressed adamantly stated that children should never be sent alone into
a public restroom. I was wondering: At what age *does* it become safe to
send a child to the bathroom alone? 5? 8? 12? Sometimes I find myself in
a very uncomfortable position: I have a 3 yr old boy and a 5 yr old girl.
The three of us will be at a restaurant, and one of the children will need
to go to the bathroom. We can't all pick up our stuff and go, or the
restaurant employees are likely to think we've left and to clear away our
food; I can't go into the bathroom with one child, leaving the other all
alone and unsupervised at a table in the restaurant (I would think this is
even more dangerous than sending one to the bathroom alone); I'm not
keen on sending one child to the bathroom alone, because even assuming the
child could *find* the bathroom there always are fears about what might
happen. I usually compromise by walking the child to the bathroom door,
sending him/her in alone, but standing near the door, but where I can
also see the table. I didn't think this was that bad a solution, but
everyone who posted a response to the Mom & Dad safety question seemed to
think sending a child into the bathroom alone is a horrible thing to do.
So does anyone have any alternative suggestions?
I'm a single mother with no father in the picture and I started letting
my son go into public restrooms by himself when he was about 5. I stand
outside of the door and estimate how much time it should take him to get
in and do his business and get out. If it seems to be taking longer
I call out to see if he is okay. I am perfectly willing to go into a
men's restroom if I'm sufficiently worried. I've just had to do this
once or twice in the last 4 years. There is a strong cultural taboo
against a woman in a men's bathroom (and vice versa), but I recognize
it for what it is, just a cultural taboo, and I feel no qualms about
breaking it if I think the situation warrants it.
I think the compromise of waiting for the one kid while keeping the
other kid in view in the restaurant is a good one.
My daughter has complained quite a bit about the condition of the
bathrooms at her Berkeley public elementary school. As we approach the
beginning of the school year, I'm wondering what other parents
have done to improve the condition of the bathrooms at their
children's schools. Any advice on how to organize around this
issue? Didn't Berkeley voters pass measure AA or BB or something
like that a couple of years ago to hire more janitors to deal
specifically with this issue? Weren't there some Berkeley High
moms a few years ago who organized and got some results? From what
I've seen and heard, this situation really is intolerable and I'd
like to join up with some other parents to effect some positive
change. The impression I have is that many kids' solution is to
not use the bathrooms at all. Isn't there a better solution?
public school parent
I have no solution to the bathroom issue - just a few observations. I work
in a school and we struggle with the bathroom problem. It is not
necessarily an issue of more custodians, although BUSD custodians
have had their hours cut in many schools due to the budget crisis.
(Measures AA/BB do not necessarily provide more custodial hours). All
schools schedule the custodians to clean bathrooms on a regular and
reasonable schedule; it's a priority. The problem is: children and
bathooms. (How many 6 year olds always remember to flush?) Multiply it by 200,
300, 400 incidents a day and....school bathrooms. Really, they are never
as nice as yours at home, and they are the one place at school where
kids are unsupervised. Imagine the activities that occur when adults
aren't looking! As a staff member I have ''popped in'' on all sorts
of...unusual...activies, by kids of all kinds. But how do we feel about
adults ''supervising'' this very personal place? Even if it was possible to
escort each kid to the bathroom (it's not!) the real issue lies in teaching
all children to behave responsibly when adults AREN''T watching. And
there's the rub. We've create signs, posters, art work, had ''workshops''
with classes, did spot checks and drop-ins...but still our school
bathrooms are ''nasty''. (The boys are the worst - those of us with boys at
home know why - poor aim). Anyone with suggestions - I want to hear
them! BTW, my own kids have survived BUSD bathrooms all the way
through high school...the call of nature wins over delicate sensibilities.
But does it have to be this way?
I did not find out until he was graduating from an El Cerrito
middle school, but my son never used the bathrooms at school and
held it until he got home. This was due to the conditions of
the facilities as well as the rowdiness that went on in them.
He was also complaining of stomach aches. My plan was, if the
stomach aches were caused by ''holding it'' all day, to get a note
from his pediatritian requesting that he be allowed to use the
teachers' bathroom. School was over, however, before I got to
take any action and the stomach aches went away. By the way, I
went to Cragmont in the 60's and also never used the bathrooms
because I got roughed-up in one once when I was in the first
grade, and the bathrooms were pretty clean.
I feel compelled to answer this post, even though my older
daughter is still 2 years away from kindergarten at the Berkeley
public schools. If the bathrooms are filthy and kids are too
disgusted or afraid to visit them, and the schools are
understaffed, underfinanced, whatever, why not call on volunteer
I would happily go to my daughter's school a few times a week to
supervise the bathroom situation during recesses/lunchtimes. It
wouldn't be fun, per say, but having relatively clean, safe,
accessible bathrooms is very important to me, as I imagine it
will be for my kids too. Heck, I wouldn't even mind doing a
little cleaning if it's necessary! I bet if the parents saw
where their kids had to do their business, enough would volunteer
to help keep things orderly and sanitary. I would!
My potty training 2 1/2 year old refuses to go on any potty
other than the one at home. At home, he's great, even
getting up from the middle of a video to tell me he has to go.
Great, right? The downside is that when we are not at
home, he HOLDS it, sometimes 4 or 5 or 6 hours at a time (I
know, I can't believe it either).
I feel no rush to potty train, but I feel like we're neither here
nor there, and I'm concerned about how long he's holding it.
A 2 1/2 year old can hold out for 4,5,6 hours without using the
potty, with no problem. Ask him/her if s/he to go before you
leave home, and then if s/he refuses to use a public toilet
while you're out but has no accidents, I wouldn't worry about
it. My child can go a LOT longer than I can and seems to have
suffered no ill effects. Sometimes he wants to use a public
toilet and lots of times he doesn't. I don't fight him on this
I don't know if your son has expressed his reasons for only
wanting to use the potty at home, but for my daughter, she found
the big industrial toilets that you find in many public places to
be quite menacing.
My solution: To carry around a Baby Bjorn potty (about $10) and a
ziploc of Clorox wipes (well-marked, so as not to confuse them
with diaper wipes!!). I usually just got smiles in public as we
went from place to place with the potty in tow. (My husband found
it to be a little too crass for his comfort, so he'd stick the
potty in a plastic bag.) When she'd have to go, we'd stop in the
nearest restroom and do our thing.
Now, she doesn't mind going on the public toilets, but if they are
the big industrial ones, she asks to leave the room before I
flush, as she finds that noise to be too scary.
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