Taking kids in dressing rooms, bathrooms...what age is appropriate? archived

I've been pondering this lately with regards to my elder two bears, both boys. For a while, they have independently used the men's room when we are out and about. I'm sure for years actually. Short of some horrible situation where I would be concerned for their safety, I think this is fine. It's usually at restaurants, the mall, etc and I am right outside. I keep a close eye on who goes in and out, tell them to talk to no one, wash hands, all the regular stuff. They elected this on their own...some time ago.

Recently, however, we were out shopping at the mall and I was trying some clothes on. In one store, I took them in the empty dressing room with me...a large area with separated stalls and floor to ceiling walls. They like to help with zippers, comment on dresses, etc. In this case, they knew Mommy was looking for a special dress for an event and she wanted to be "really pretty". Anyway, all was fine in that store but when we ventured to the next store, I felt a bit different about them in the room with me. First, there were other women in the dressing area and they seemed to be walking around outside their respective stalls. And the set up in this dressing room was really stalls...walled cubicle-ish areas that had walls from only calf to neck level. The boys walked in, then I sent them out. I felt bad since they were assisting me and felt like they were part of "the mission", but I didn't feel it was appropriate for them to be in there with me. And I felt stares from the older ladies when we initially walked in. It wasa totally different vibe.

BTW, the bears are 9.5 and 10.5. Over the past year, both have become much more private about dressing, being in their underwear, closing the door when they use the bathroom, etc. They started to shower/bathe alone, not all together. They have also started to respect my privacy as well. I will say, however, that we are NOT a closed door, never let anyone see you naked family. To me, nakedness and our bodies are natural things and I want my kids to be comfortbale with that. I don't make a big deal out of it.

So about this dressing room thing, what do you guys think? What's appropriate? Or is it case by case, according to what dressing room variable are involved?

I would not be comfortable in a dressing area with boys over the age of five, give or take. They get curious soon after that age, and I really would hate to be seen in any state of less than total dress by someone else's son. What you and your kids are comfortable with at home is definitely your own business. But what happens in a public dressing room affects other people, and I'm being honest with you in saying I think your sons are too old for that. Sorry... :shamed:

Assuming the dressing stalls were sufficient to give me some privacy, I would not be bothered by kids of that age in a dressing room area, so long as they were well behaved (ie: not screaming or slamming things around, and not trying to climb under, or peek over the doors to other dressing rooms.) But I think that, as a customer, I would also appreciate being asked by the mother; "Would you mind if I took my sons in with me?"

I'd say about six or seven years old is the cutoff. Seven is the dawning of self-consciousness, and around then, kids can begin to understand that others are conscious about their naked or half-naked bodies.

I took my daughters to change with me at the Y to go swimming. It was just the daughters and I, so we went to the men's locker room. The girls were seven and four. One guy threw a fit over it, but at the time, I had no choice. The seven year old was not big enough to get dressed and to the pool by herself. So too bad. A lot of people came to my rescue and told me that this guy was known for throwing fits frequently.

But note that my focus is my daughters' needs, not my own. I'd say if you are getting dressed, you have to figure out how to do it without your sons' help. There are other ways to make them feel helpful. Telling them explicitly or implicitly that you can't get dressed without their help is probably not the message you want to give them, at their ages.

I didn't get the impression that M'bear was sending her sons the message that she needs their help to get dressed. I think she's sending the message that their input is valuable to her. And they probably really appreciate knowing that they're helping their mom look fabulous.

I just want to clarify since Newjunkie brought it up...I'm assuming good behavior with kids. They are helping mommy, not rough housing, peeking under stalls, etc. Also, I assume that dressing stalls means no nakedness would be shared out in th eopen whatsoever. I'd rather not have my kids to see another adult naked in a dressing room, nor would I expect a stranger to comfortbale with that.

I think it depends on the dressing room area. If I am shopping with LBR, I am not going to leave him outside by himself in a store while I try on clothes. I would take him in with me, close the door and try on my clothes. If it were the stall area like you mentioned MB, I wouldn't be comfortable with him in there either, so I probably wouldn't shop in that store.

IMO I would rather offend someone than risk my son's safety.

This thread is irresistibly reminding me of a story about my niece when she was two...

When she was little, my niece loved to run around the apartment naked, and her mother would playfully chase her, crying out, "Oh, no! Naked lady!"

One time my SIL took my niece into a Loehman's dressing room with her, which was one of those totally open dressing areas where everyone can see everyone else changing. And my niece's eyes apparently went about as big as dinner plates, and she exclaimed, "Oh, no! NAKED LADIES!"

Peggy...classic...LOL



Posted By: ScarletI think it depends on the dressing room area. If I am shopping with LBR, I am not going to leave him outside by himself in a store while I try on clothes. I would take him in with me, close the door and try on my clothes. If it were the stall area like you mentioned MB, I wouldn't be comfortable with him in there either, so I probably wouldn't shop in that store.

IMO I would rather offend someone than risk my son's safety.


Agreed about the safety issue.

BTW, has anyone ever noticed what a dump the Macy's at Livingston is??? That was the dressing room with the stalls. Half the doors were broken, it smelled like dirty, sweaty grossness, and the carpet had disgusting stains everywhere. I'm not headed back there any time soon....YUCK!

Posted By: mammabear
BTW, has anyone ever noticed what a dump the Macy's at Livingston is??? That was the dressing room with the stalls. Half the doors were broken, it smelled like dirty, sweaty grossness, and the carpet had disgusting stains everywhere. I'm not headed back there any time soon....YUCK!

Don't get me started on department store dressing rooms. Beat-up, grubby cubicles with fluorescent lighting that makes everyone look like hell. And they expect us to buy stuff from them? One word: Talbots. Now that's how to sell clothes.

I'm big on safety issues, but I also think that boys and girls of the age you are discussing are too old to be in opposite sex dressing rooms or bathrooms (with strangers/non-family present) under almost any circumstances (with an exception for kids with special developmental or physical needs), whether we are discussing my 10 year old daughter or mammabear's 9.5 and 10.5 year old sons.

There are a few stores where the fitting rooms are designed for spouses, generally where very fancy/expensive goods are being sold. So I guess my thought would be if the fitting room design is such that you would take a husband/boyfriend/male friend into the fitting room, then 10 year old boys are also welcome. If not, then they probably shouldn't be there anymore.

I'm very impressed, however, that your boys are happy to shop with you for your clothing. I'm not sure my daughter would be so willing! The real question is, did you find the right event dress?:smile:

I believe the little y in Montclair has a 6yo cutoff for the locker room. (opposite sex of course)

I like how you handled it Mammabear. It sounds like your sensitivity to the 'vibes' of the dressing rooms helped you make appropriate decisions. I do think that in general, 9 y/o is getting a bit on the old side to be in opposite sex rooms, but personally I wouldn't care too much as long as their was reasonable privacy for each stall.

i don't know many children, boys or girls, who like shopping for clothes for their parents; especially opposite sex parent. if safety is an issue i'd leave the kids home rather then possibly create an uncomfortable situation in a dressing room. many parents wouldn't bother to ask if anyone felt uncomfortable.

If the dressing room doesn't suit your comfort level, buy the stuff, try it on at home and return what you don't like. Heck, I do that even when I am shopping alone!! Sometimes the dressing rooms ARE way too gross!!

Susan...my boys had to be slightly bribed to "help Mommy" but then they really got in to it. We had some good laughs in the big drressing room at L&T. It was when when we migrated to Macy's that the issue came about. Funny, today, we ventured to Bloomies and found the PERFECT dress. The staff there was incredible and the boys were safe right outside the dressing room. They also came in and out. No issue whatsoever. Those rooms are private with florr to ceilking walls and full doors. The boys were great. I rewarded the good behavior with Bloomies frozen yogurt. Yum!! oh oh

mammabear...I'm indeed impressed. My 10 year old hates shopping, even for herself.

It sounds like you have a pretty good calibration curve for which stores can work and which can't, which puts you well ahead of some parents, who seem to be comfortable taking boys nearly old enough to shave into ladies restrooms in places like waterparks/theme parks.

Glad you found the right dress and the right store!


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