When should I stop bathing my son and daughter together? What signs can I watch for that would indicate that they should be separate? Also, what are the average ages in the US and other countries and cultures?
When the children are uncomfortable with it. They will let you know when they don't want to bathe with their sibling anymore.
Why should noticing something is different be a problem? If your child noticed her sibling had different color hair on his head, would you put a hat over it to hide it? A girl can know a penis is different from a vagina, (and vice versa) long before she's uncomfortable seeing one.
It really depends on two main factors.
- The children's comfort level with bathing with others. I stopped bathing with my siblings around age 7, because I became aware of the idea of privacy and I felt it was important.
- YOUR comfort level with it. The kids won't be developmentally harmed by bathing separately. My son (age 6) now bathes without his sisters. Why? Because I was uncomfortable with him exploring how good touching "down there" feels in a bath with his sisters.
However, it is also vitally important to not make a big deal about it. I just told my son, "Well, I can tell you've grown up a lot. Time to bathe alone." He was unhappy at first and asked me why. The answer I gave was simply, "It's part of growing up." I did NOT mention my discomfort over his behavior. That was a conversation at another time. Ok, that was many conversations at many other times.
I don't believe it's up the the children to make this decision. I believe that an 8 year old boy should not be bathing with his 4 year old sister. I think at that age they need to learn about privacy and respect for the other. I understand that it's much faster to do them together but it's not always the best. By 8 years old he could be introduced to the shower and getting more independent about his hygiene.
Our kids stopped when the girl was 7 and the boys were 5 and 3. The reason was more because they wouldn't all fit comfortably any more than anything else. The boys actually could have continued bathing together for a while, but the 3 year old splashed so aggressively that big brother wanted to bathe alone in peace.
In a normal bathtub, I think "when they don't fit" is a pretty good answer.
My children are 6 and 3 and know the difference between each others genitals. They still bathe together with no problem. They actually prefer it because they don't like being in the bathroom alone in fear of monsters lol teach them that there is a difference and that its a "no touch" zone for everyone except their self and there should be no real problem. That's when I'll maybe make them stop.. When my 6 year old reaches 9