Parents ask – What age can my child go to a public restroom alone? Our answer

We just had an amazing turnout for a KidSafe Family event we held at an elementary school. Without fail one of the first questions parents always ask is:

At what age is my child old enough to go into a public restroom alone?

We become a bit baffled by this question because after a parent has participated in a one hour KidSafe seminar – we have educated them on issues of sexual abuse, what grooming looks like, why children don’t tell, disclosure, bullying, internet safety, cyber bullying, safe and unsafe touch, communicating with children….and the list goes on…we ponder why this is the question always asked after each lecture. Here are our thoughts…..

It’s a safe question – parents often think we will give them a concrete blanketed answer – a specific age. This answer is something a parent can put into practice right away to help insure the safety of their children. We all want to know what the concrete guidelines are that would make our children safe because, quite often the world can be a scary place.

Parents have many questions about talking to their children about their personal safety but this one, the public restroom question, is benign and by asking this question other questions perhaps can be answered as well such as:

At what age can my child ……

  • to play dates without me
  • to sleepovers
  • to overnight camp

Stay home alone

But teaching safety to your children is not black and white. We can take many precautions to keep our children safe, for example by keeping the medicines out of a child’s reach, covering the electrical sockets, or making sure that the camp we send our child to does background checks, those are external measures. When it comes to teaching our children about their personal safety – it is internal – so at KidSafe we answer this often asked question:

“At what age is my child old enough to use the public restroom alone? “ with the following answer:

“What have you taught your child about his/her personal safety so that you feel confident and your child feels confident he/she can make the safest and smartest choices when going into a public restroom?” (or going on a play date without a parent, having a sleep over, going to overnight camp?)

To us at KidSafe, we see these conversations about personal safety as a natural part of our parenting – just part of the job. We know this can be a tough question to answer for some parents…because talking to your children about their personal safety is fearful for some, or you may think you don’t want to put ideas in your child’s head, take away their innocence, or scare them. Our philosophy at KidSafe is to teach children personal safety from a place of fun not fear. Personal safety life skills should be used every day as a natural part of your parenting. If you can incorporate these life skills starting with children as young as four these skills become a habit that our children can use for a life time.

So through our blog we will share with you some skills and tips about how to integrate KidSafe skills into your everyday parenting so you will know and have confidence that your child will make the safest and smarted choices when given new responsibilities such as using a public restroom or what to do if a sleepover goes sour.

At this point you have probably caught on that we are not going to give you specific age guidelines to answer these questions. What we will do, in our next blog, is provide you with concrete skills that you can start using immediately, everyday in your natural parenting to help keep your children safe. These life skills are not scary but are necessary for your children to have the ability to make the safest and smartest choices as they gain more independence and responsibilities as they grow up. Then you can feel confident to let them go to that public restroom alone – because they will have learned and practiced how to make the safest and smartest choices when faced with safety situations.

Testimonials

"Thank you for giving us the opportunity to be included in the KidSafe program. I highly recommend this program to other schools. We hope that we will be given the same opportunity for our Kindergarten and 2nd grade students to be a part of this wonderful program during the 2016-2017 school year."

Mrs. Keelyn Meselsohn 2nd Grade Teacher/Team Leader Tradewinds Elementary School

"The Safe and Smart Series Book My Body Is Special and Belongs To Me is kept in my middle school clinic and has been a tool that has opened many conversations for me between students that have experienced a difficult situation and were unable to talk about it. Through the illustrations and nonjudgmental verbiage the author has allowed kids permission to share their feelings about invasion of their personal space. Thank you so much."

Nurse Connie, PBC School Nurse 6.8.2016

"I'm so grateful that KidSafe has partnered with my daughter's school.  I learned so much in the parent training--how to recognize potential sexual predator behavior; how to quiz my child about what they would do in different scenarios; and how to explain safe and unsafe touch.  In addition, knowing that my daughter is receiving weekly trainings on these topics gives me great peace of mind.  I have confidence that I can reinforce what she is learning in school in order to prevent her from ever being a victim of such a heinous crime.  Thank you KidSafe for your dedication to protecting our communities' most vulnerable citizens."

Christina Kranick

“It was a normal Saturday and I was at the rink with my 7 and 8 year old. My son asked me if he could use the Men’s Restroom by himself.  Without hesitation, my daughter said,  Absolutely not! I was in KidSafe today and you cannot go to the restroom alone.  It is very important that Mommy is with you.. with us.   I was so proud of my little girl!  We are so blessed to have Debbie Miller at our school teaching our children the importance of safety. Many thanks to you all!  Your program and instruction is absolutely amazing.  Keep up the great work!"  

Tara Henley Admissions Assistant, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and School, Ft. Lauderdale

I am a parent of two Pine Crest children and I attended your program on Monday night. I just wanted to thank you so very much for the very informative seminar. As hard as it was to hear all of those things, it was very needed. We were thrilled that you were able to come and share that very important information with us and our children. So again...thank you.

Elisa Aronberg

Today’s training was awesome! It was very informative. Sally was a very good resource, she motivated us a lot! We want to pass on this information to parents, teachers and students! Thank you for offering workshops like this. These are tools we use to continue serving our children and families.

Participant from Children’s Services Council of Broward Seminar

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