14 answers

5 Year Old Obsessed with Fire

One of my 5 year olds is obsessed with the house catching on fire. We have not ever had a fire or know anyone to have had one, but she is petrified of this. It is to the point that she panics even if I light a candle. Is ther anyone out there with the same problem and how did your child overcome this?

What can I do next?

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Practice an emergency plan for the family. That way she knows exactly what to do if it were to ever happen. It may help with her anxiety.

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Hi A.,
I've never had my daughter mention this to me...however, she does talk about tornado's and storms and I think that is because she has to practice being safe at her preschool incase something would ever happen. I do know they also practice fire drills there using an alarm that she was really afraid of.
Does your daughter go to a school where they practice a fire drill using a loud alarm? Does she go to school with someone that has had or knows someone that had a house fire?
Maybe you could try taking her to the fire station for a visit. Maybe call them or stop in and talk with them before hand about her feelings and what her fears are. Maybe, they can show her that if something does ever happen, they will come to help.
Also, have you tried doing an escape route with her?
Maybe, if you practice this over and over for a while she won't be so worried if something would happen.
If you have a two story house be sure to get a ladder that you can use to escape out the window if needed.
We have one and I keep it behind our door in the master bedroom so if something ever happens, I can grab it and go get both kids out safely.
I hope some of this helps!
I will pray for your daughter and her fears!

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter, age 7 is also very afraid of fire. It used to be that I would turn on the gas stove & she would cry. She was also very frightened of the fire alarm. We have worked through some of her fears be reassuring her that she is safe. Little by little she gets better. From my experience it takes time & constant reassurane. I also would never light a candle or the stove without telling her. It is better she is prepared for what you are going to do and know that it is a "safe" form of fire. I hope that helps- good luck@

1 mom found this helpful

I was a firefighter/emt and took a positon doing Public Education. My first advice is to discuss your daughters fears and see if you can pinpoint when and where they began. Then consider contacting your local fire dept and talk with their educator. See how they feel you should proceed. Past experiance with this issue, has shown me that we NEVER force a child into a situation he or she is uncomfortable with. Also there are some great fire safety books that I use one of which is called No Dragons for Tea, or Dinofours fire drill.
Both are great childrens books with Good Messages. Be careful about other books some that appear good have mixed messages you don't want your daughter to have. Also you can go to the National Fire Administration Web site and there is a Kids section there. NFPA also has a Sparkey section. These may help you talk to your child. Most of all let her know that Fire fighters are there to help her and that she should NEVER HIDE. If you need a listing of Public educators in the area check out Indiana Safety Educators Website and there you will find a list of educators. Good Luck and God Bless.

1 mom found this helpful

Practice an emergency plan for the family. That way she knows exactly what to do if it were to ever happen. It may help with her anxiety.

1 mom found this helpful

I don't think this is uncommon. When I was a child, I was terrified to go to bed upstairs without my parents up there with me because I feared there would be a fire and I wouldn't hear them yelling "Fire". I would sleep on the couch until my parents went to bed. One night, my fears came true. Mom was making candy for Easter and I was sleeping on the couch. Our house caught on fire and our smoke detectors didn't work. Even being on the couch, I didn't hear them yelling. I just remember my sister wrapping a blanket around me and shoving me out the front door. I was 8 when this happened. I'm not sure anything can reassure a kid when they're that young and have fears like that. Might just be something she needs to grow out of. Just don't be harsh with her and try to understand her fears.

My daughter did the same thing. We showed her that the smoke alarms work and how they work. We made a plan in case of fire and discussed what things were dangerous and showed her the safety features of our house. She is still fearful, but it is at a level that is tolerable now. Knowledge is power, especially for children and their fears.

Dear A.,

You might try giving her her own smoke personal detector to carry around and keep by her bed. Might help reassure her if it doesn't go off.

God Bless,


My daughter now 9 1/2 is obsessed with floods and has been since she was very young, much the same as you are describing with the fire situation. We have tried everything...books, safety lessons, cognitave therapy to no avail. We just reasure her frequently and hope she will outgrow it.

Hi A.!

My now 9 year old boy is terrified of tornados. Although this is not fire, this fear is extreme. He does always have concerns about other things such as fires, burglary, etc. I don't have a hard answer for you, except that we just have to reassure him that we are careful. We watch the weather (or in your case "we watch the candles and make sure they are not close to anything that could catch fire". I know 5 is quite a bit younger but we have always explained everything we can to our kids and they seem to understand. With my son, his fear seems to be from Asperger's Syndrome. He's never been through a tornado or known anyone to. In addition, we all love thunderstorms, but he is always worried that it will turn into a tornado. He is calmer than he used to be (some may be age, some may be that we are calm and calmy explain that we are watching the weather and listening to reports to be sure that tornados are not in our area.) Hope this helps some. Sorry I don't have a better answer. Good luck.

We too have dealt with extreem anxiety due to asperger. Anxiety is only a problem if it is interfering with her life. If the intesity of her fear is so overreaching that she cannot enjoy or avoids ordinary activities, then you might want to seek help from a therapist or psychatrist.

If she has other fears that trouble her to a lesser extent, or has other developmental, sensory, speech/language or social oddities, I would suggest that you add these together and seek an evaluation from a developmental pediatrican.


My son went thru this after they had the firemen come to school and talk about fire safety. We had a few weeks where he could hardly sleep for worrying so much. He would cry and worry about his baby brother (who he shared a room with) our room was downstairs and the boys' room upstairs, and he wos mostly worried that if there was a fire, we wouldn't be able to get up the stairs and he wouldn't be able to save his brother. It took a lot of reassuring and patience, but we were finally able to convince him that while fires DO happen, they don't happen very often over all. We prayed with him (don't know if you guys are religious) and asked God to keep us safe. We also practiced a fire escape plan just in case, which seemed to REALLY help. The hardest part, for us, was making him understand that we were the parents and it is our job to make sure everyone is safe, and his brother was not his responsibility. When practicing the fire escape plan, we would do it at different times of the day, when everyone was doing different things (sleeping in their room or playing in the living room, etc.)

I'm the same as Jessica. My daughter is 4 1/2 and has been petrified of fires ever since the fire department came to visit and talk with the kids at her preschool about a year ago. So much that the site of the light on the smoke alarm in her room puts her into panic mode. It now has a band aid on it to cover the light. She doesn't like candles, the grill, anything that involves a flame. And if the batteries start going out in the smoke alarms - watch out. Panic-stricken screaming, crying and shaking. My husband and I reassure her that we would never do anything that would harm her (light a candle, start the grill, etc). Over time she's gotten better, but not 100%. I'm sure as time goes on, she'll relax more and more and become more comfortable. She knows what to do if there's a fire and we practice it often.

I don't have much advice but I think its common to have fears like this at that age. My 5 year old son is currently obsessed with tornadoes. For the past few months he's been totally obsessed with them and scared whenever it gets windy. We read a Magic School Bus book about tornadoes, along with several other books about them, so now he knows they only happen under certain circumstances. He was asking about the house and where we would go if the house was blown away. So we talked about house insurrance and how it works. He would be able to get his clothes and toys back, etc. We talked about how neighbors help each other and, even in the middle of the night, the firefighters would come to help us and give us a nice dry place to stay. So anyways.... after a couple months of going over everything that would happen if/when a tornado hit, he's finally calmed down about them because it's not a big unknown now.

Maybe the same approach would work with your daughter. Talk about how fires start, how to get out of the house, demonstrate the smoke detector, go over what would happen afterwards, etc. Good luck!

i would check out fireman books from the library, do a fire station tour, a plan for evacuating the house in case of fire... it is a real fear so if you just explore it and help her feel safe and confident about what would happen if there is a fire, then she'll probably not be so afraid.

it's important for kids to know what firemen look like in their gear, because they do look very scary with their masks on. if they know they can trust a fireman, they will be more likely not to hide from them in a fire.

also, maybe you could roast marshmellows, cook over the fire, have a candle party, or some sort of happy fire association?

just some ideas...

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