My ds is also 6 and (a) highly indignant if I try to take him into the ladies and (b) a dreamer for Britain - so I let him go into the gents but stand practically in the doorway (holding my nose! - why do they pong so?) until he comes out. Have been known to hurry him up from doorway in excruciatingly embarrassing (for him) posh voice.
I certainly wouldn't let a 6yo go into the gents alone. I think I let ds1 and ds2 go TOGETHER when they were maybe 7 and 9, with stict instructions to stay together; and to approach an attendant or a family man with boy(s) their own age if they felt uncomfortable in any way. Alone, I'd say 8 is safe.
My two oldest ds's (aged 9 and 7) go into the gents on their own, together IYSWIM, but if I only had the 7 yo with me, I would take him into the ladies. He objects though! They have been doing this together for a couple of years now, on and off. It does depend a bit on the loo! A really public loo, eg at a service station bothers me more than a semi public loo, eg in a shop. That probably doesn't make sense!
I still take them both into the ladies changing room at the swimming pool even though a notice says only boys under 8 allowed in, because they wash their hair after their lesson and I can't trust them to do this properly on their own. I make sure they change in a cubicle to save the blushes of any of the girls changing there (it is only children changing as the pool is not open to the public at that time).
DS1 started to be very insistent (to the point of tantrumming sometimes) about going into the boys and not the girls... so I have sometimes let him go in by himself from age 4. I stand outside the door and shout at him every 20 seconds or so.
I would say seven or eight, and then only if it is eg in a shopping centre rather than an iffy underground grot. I don't honestly see how anyone can object because ladies toilets are cubicles and so there is really no privacy issue with a child...I have also looked in to see how busy it is and said something like I'm sorry no one minds if "child's name" pops in here with me, i'm rather worried about him using the gents alone...
I get looks all the time when I take my ds who is 6 into the ladies, he is a tall boy. Ds has been allowed in the gents at times when the ladies are Q'd out the door, the men's toilets are never q'd out the door! But the first time I let him in the gents my stomach was in knots and I was standing right outside the door. I remeber being in a shopping centre and ds was 4 and a bit I think, and the ladies was so busy ds was bursting so I let him use the gents and after 5mins I felt physically sick as he hadn't come out, eventually I stopped a man coming out the toilets and described my ds to him, he said oh that will be the little un thats flooding the sinks! Whoops
that made me kidstrack.
My DS is 7.5 and I haven't let him go to the gents on his own, and actualy even now I can't see mysself letting him in the near future, thankfully he has a very strong bladder and doesn't often have to go when we are out.
However he has complained on the last few occasions of being in the ladies, I like bluewaters family rooms!!
I must admit I don't like ds using the gents but at times we have had to but even now I get stomach churning motions when he has to use them, I find it easier when its a disabled come baby changing toilet as I can take ds and dd who is 2 in there and we all get to use it and then we are on our way!
This is a nightmare situation and i cant even begin to think about what i would do when ds gets older.
My cousin was on holiday in St Ives when he was about 7, went into the gents with mother hovering outside seeing to her dd who was a toddler. Her ds was grabbed by a perv and interfered with in a locked cubical.
Absolute nightmare. Makes me feel physically sick when i think about it.
I dont think that my ds will leave my sight...EVER,
not sure ds1 was 8 on monday and i still wouldn't let him into the gents on his own unless it was somewhere like public loo in a prk that i could check first that no one else was in there. i feel that its just easier and safer to take them yourself. if any one complains i would be inclined to tell them where to go.
what is the problem with that woman, ladies toilets have cubicles so cannot see anyone/they cannot see him.
Donbeam thats the whole thing that runs through my head, I know it terrible to think thoughts of that nature but I think our kids today are not safe in toilets anymore and thats why I try and take ds into the same toilet as me whenever possible.
Sam will run into the gents automatically, he is 5, but he is always tagged by his 4 year old brother in case of emergencies. I don't use grotty toilets tho (there aren't any here and I don't go much anywhere else without ds)and if it is a single loo, such as in a restaurant, I will look in and check first.
I let DS1 (7) go into the gents in restaurants etc but anywhere more open (shopping center, park etc) he goes in the ladies with me. I'll let DS2 (5) go with his brother under the same circumstances, but I wouldn't let him go on his own.