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What Age Can Kids Go to the Bathroom by Themselves?

Wondering When Kids Can Use Public Bathrooms Alone? We Asked an Expert to Weigh In

Is there an age where parents should stop accompanying their kids of the opposite sex to the bathroom?

Any parent who has survived potty-training their kids knows that running errands brings stress about for a new reason: public restrooms.

As if potty-training your kid wasn't hard enough, figuring out when exactly you should let your kids navigate the restroom alone can be especially challenging — particularly if your mini me is a member of the opposite sex. Thankfully, Frank Sileo, PhD, a licensed psychologist and children's book author based in Ridgewood, NJ, was able to answer some of our most burning questions about when children should be allowed to use public restrooms.

"There really is not a specific age when parents should allow their kids to use public restrooms on their own," he told POPSUGAR. And technically, no kid should ever be in a public restroom without a parent or guardian around. "According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, no children of any age should be permitted to use public restrooms alone."

Lindsay Macchia, PhD, an associate psychologist at the Child Mind Institute, agreed that there's no perfect time for kids to venture to the bathroom alone.

"The answer may vary based on each child, as well as a caregiver's expectations and comfort levels, and possibly across contexts," she said. "Children are typically expected to start going to the bathroom on their own accord starting in kindergarten, or even preschool, where bathrooms are often connected to the classroom or no more than a close walk down the hall. Even then, they are escorted by a teacher, and the process is broken down based on their needs."

Scroll through to see what to do if you ever find yourself stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to letting your child use the restroom at the grocery store, mall, or movie theater.

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