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Ask the Pediatrician | T+L Family

Dr. Kate Cronan, Pediatrician

Should you let your child go into a public restroom alone?

Your seven-year-old balks when you try to bring him into the women's room. Your tween insists she can make her own way to the airport lavatory. Virtually every parent faces the public-bathroom dilemma, especially when traveling. T+L Family turned to Philadelphia-area pediatrician Dr. Kate Cronan, medical editor at KidsHealth.org and mother of two girls and a boy, for tips for a safe trip—to the john.

Stick with kids until they're 10 or 12

Younger children may be capable of using a bathroom without you, but they aren't mature enough to handle an emergency. Wait until they're able to stay home on their own.

Let older children go solo

But stay within shouting distance, and remind them never to talk to strangers and to walk out if anyone approaches them or anything makes them at all uneasy.

Do a trial run

Practice at a public bathroom you're familiar with—say, at a restaurant you frequent. See if your child can be quick about it (speed is critical when it comes to avoiding sketchy situations).

Look for a "family bathroom"

This is a single, unisex room with a door that locks—a wonderful convenience that's cropping up in airports, amusement parks, and rest stops. Now that's a comfort station.

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