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Public Potties: Going Solo

The thought of letting 6-year-old Zachary Tanner, of Bemidji, MN, use a public bathroom by himself made his mom, Gina, more than a bit nervous, but she knew the time had come. "He was tired of having to visit the ladies' room with his two sisters and me," she says.

Around age 6, your child will start wanting a little bathroom privacy. It's also the time when he'll have enough confidence to try using a public rest room on his own. Before he does:

* Double-check his potty skills. He should be able to wipe himself, snap or zip his pants, and reach the faucet and towel dispenser (and remember to use both of them without a reminder from you!)

* Teach him some basic rules. Does he know not to dawdle or play with the soap dispenser? Is he aware he should never go off with strangers or stare at them?

* Start slow -- and keep it safe. A one-stall bathroom at the local diner is a good place to practice. Later, he can work up to solo trips at a movie theater or a ball game -- but always go with him and stand right at the door. Tell him to call out if he needs help.

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