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I Caught My Son Playing with fire..how Do I Deal with It PLEASE HELP ! !

Okay so this is probably going to be long and i apologize. My sister had a house fire back in July of this year found out that it started because the little boy she was babysitting lit paper on fire and thought he blew it out when he heard someone coming up the staris needless to say he didn't but through it under the bed..the little boy age 7 admitted this to the fire chief and my sister. At this time my sister was also / still is watching my kids while i work. Okay so here now with the help i need.
I keep a lighter in the medicine cabinet in our bathroom so i can light candles in there i walked in the bathroom because the door was opened and i heard him in there and he was holding the lighter and a q-tip i asked what he was doing he said he was looking at the lighter while cleaning out his years, i grabbed the q-tip from him and it was burned on the end.....okay so we dealt with the lying and playing with the lighter last night. So today while i was at work my sister called me and said that she found my son playing in her bedroom with matches. I am sooooo at my wits end how do i handle this ? Is there something wrong with my child ? Is it just for attention ? oh yeah and he is 5 years old will be 6 in January. Sorry this is so long but any advice would be appreciated.

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My daughter was around the same age. I explained to her how dangerous it was and grounded her for a week to her room. No t.v. or toys she had to just sit on her bed. Extreme? Maybe but she has never touvh matches or a lighter since.

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This probably isn't the best answer...but my Mom used to let us light things over the sink under supervision (this started after I burnt the porch of our cottage down when I was three). It got out our curiosity and I never lit anything again (except for my cigarette as a teenager but that's a whole other post! lol)

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My daughter was around the same age. I explained to her how dangerous it was and grounded her for a week to her room. No t.v. or toys she had to just sit on her bed. Extreme? Maybe but she has never touvh matches or a lighter since.

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Hello J.,
Take him to your local fire deparment and have the firefighters talk to him. My dad was a firefighter for 32 years they wont mind they will do anything to prevent someone getting hurt. Hope this helps N.

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What about finding some videos on youtube. You can watch them first to make sure you approve. If he sees the devastation it causes in some sad videos, maybe he will get it. I think this is more extreme then grounding and may hit home. I wish you luck.

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He's obviously interested in this. My boys have been the same way to. I would try not to overreact about it. Kids find fire fascinating. Its amazing to them how the fire just eats up whatever their holding. Boys are also very naturally curious.

I think maybe sit him down and talk to him about how fascinating it is. Tell him it can also be very dangerous and let him know that fire is very hot and burns and that it also spreads very quickly. I would not let him watch you tube videos of fires as you may peak his curiosity and fear tactics never work. Just arm him with knowledge.

Tell him if he ever feels like lighting something to come to you and he can light the candle while you snuggle and watch it. My kids love blowing the candles out. Talk about all the positive things you enjoy about safe fire use. Find a safe outlet that will satisfy his curiosity but be safe. Our kids are used to fire because we go camping every year and we have discussed safety.

Also, its obvious hew can reach the lighter so I owuld find a new hiding place right now.

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No, nothing is wrong with him!!! Kids are pyros. You HAVE to be very consistent and very firm with your discipline and he'll stop. It may take several more tries, but be strict, and consistent. Make him learn he will NOT get away with it and touching anything that could be used to start a fire, much less trying to light things is not worth his while due to the harsh consequences. Do not give any sort of overdramatic dialogue, talking, analyzing etc in case it is for attention. A quick, simple, clear reprimand and a very firm, very unpleasant consequence. And step up the attention and love at other times. He may be feeling some sort of void. But most likely he just wants to start a fire. He has no idea how dangerous it is, and he won't understand explanations about pain and burning and death and property loss. Just make sure he is clear it's not allowed to touch flammable things or he'll be very sorry, through actions, not words! In addition to training him about it, also remove hand held flammable things and matches when you're not home. Good luck!

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I've seen lots of great advice here. But what I do is hide the matches in a cabinet that has a lock on it-the kind that requires a key--one of the many keys I always keep in my pocket. It's often a pain for me to have to unlock that cabinet whenever I need something out of it, but considering the matches I keep in there, it's worth it.
Secondly, when it comes to lighting them I hope my kids see how carefully I watch the lighted match in my hand, because that flame gets a little too close to me sometimes and I have to blow it out before I get the candle lit. I hope he picks up some caution about fire from that.
Thirdly, my husband is involved quite a bit with a fire department. It's not what he does for a living though. So whenever that fire department is having an event for kids, we tend to know about it. Mine has been to many fire department open houses.-I got an idea, take your kids to see the movie FireProof. That's got some real fire stuff in it-it gave me a feel like never before!

Hopefully some of this will help, and we are hoping that our kids know something about fire with all this exposure.

I'd teach my kids that finding a match or lighter is as dangerous as finding a gun. "Don't touch, Leave the area, Tell and adult".

We're with you on this! Hope this helps.

all matches, lighters out of the house. Might want to only use the candles in an emergency for a while at least.

does she still watch the little boy who started the fire?

I'd sit down calmly and discuss the dangers and read some books to him. Library is a great source as well as the local fire dept.

He should be in Kindergarten, can mention it to the guidance counselor and see if she can have some talks with him and if she can tell you if maybe he might need some counseling.

Hi J.,

Children are very curious especially at age 5.

www.sproutonline.com has a section on fire safety appropriate for the ages of your children my youngest 2 are 4 and 5 and enjoy playing the different games.

My husband has been a fireman since 1986. How about having the fire chief speak to your son and the 7 year old who started the fire at your sisters? Are there any other children your sister watches? Maybe they can go as a group so it doesn't just single out your son? It will be a learning experience for all and believe me it is definately a program that will stick with them forever.

I also have a home base business with a candle company. They have a product called mia melts. They also sell a simmer pot that is run by a 40 watt light bulb. There is no flame to worry about or matches.

If you prefer candles they also make a veggie/soy bees wax base candle. The scent is infused throughout the candle so you get the same incredible scent from the top to the bottom of the jar. The 16 ounce glass jars burn anywhere from 88 to 120 hours. They also are cleaner burning which means no black soot on the walls etc. They are cool burning if you spill it they clean up with warm soapy water. Also if it spills on you it won't burn their not scolding hot just warm. Naturally the wick that is lit will burn you.

feel free to check out my website about the company:


I hope this helps?

A little about me: I'm a work from home Mom of 4 with my own home based candle business my Family loves helping me with.

Take him to your local firehouse where they will talk to him about fire safety and about playing with matches. The other thing you may want to look into is a psychologist just to be sure that there isn't something that is bothering him and that's making him act out.

To be on the safe side, please make sure there are NO matches or lighters ANYWHERE in your/your sister's home. Treat them like poison...put them where there's NO WAY a kid can get to them.

Will i need help to my son hjas done it 3 time. I need to no wat to do about him playng with fire. Pls someone help me before he brun us out a house and a home..........

Hi J.,
There's no point in being delicate, your life and the lives of your children depend on it: You and your sister must get rid of all matches, lighters and candles from your homes. Period. Your son is too young to be able to comprehend the real danger of fire. You can talk to your son every at every opportunity about how dangerous fire is, but it is your respondibility to remove any tempation and means by which he can create a fire. No one with young children should have lighted candles in their home. If you don't believe me, you need only talk to the nurses, doctors and families at the burn unit at Children's Hospital. And for months into the future, please keep checking your son's room, pockets and outside play areas for hidden items that he can use to create fire. Words are not enough; you must take action to protect your child and your family.

All our best to you and yours.

Perhaps this is being taken the wrong way. It is not unusual for a child of this age to act out what he is stressed or worried about. This is the basis of Play Therapy. We used it for my son when he had Post Traumatic Stress issues from surgery.
My take on this is that it was scary, exciting, and maybe even he saw the boy play with fire and now your son feels guilty for the fire at your sisters. Kids pick up on adult anxiety. He is too young to make sense of what happened, his feelings about it all, how much attention the fire brought, so he is "playing out" what is troubling him. That is how kids learn about the world: playing and exploring what they don't understand.
He may not be intentionally misbehaving, or just curious -since there is the history of being exposed to a juvenile firebug and seeing the results of that - but instead may be desperately seeking to understand/work out/get help for what is a troubling thing that affected him greatly.

As an aside, what is the deal with your sister "watching" kids and then one of them ends up unattended with something that can start a fire?! I mean no offense, but sister or not, my kids would not be there. Especially if the little arsonist is still there. That could have been far more tragic.


Why don't you call your local fire station and see if you can stop in with your son and talk with one of the fire fighters? I know they'd be SO willing to do this because Fire Prevention week was a couple weeks ago and the fire fighters have been in all the public schools teaching about fire safety. They love to do this! Perhaps they can show him the reality of what fire can do when it's not controlled. Maybe it will scare him into respecting fire. Good luck!

I would call that fire cheif and ask him to speak to your son. Is your son in school? Oct is fire safety month and lots of schools do have firemen come in or take trips to the station.

I totally agree that there needs to be NO lighters, matches etc excessable to kids.

Third, I wouldn't have my kid associate with the orginial firestarter. Mainly because it sounds like your sister/babysitter isn't watching them well enough. Sorry if that's harsh, and i realize at that age they are gaining independance, but these 2 boys have shown that they can't be trusted right now and need to earn that trust back. YOur son probably wants to do what the older kid does, which in this case is NOT GOOD. Find some other child care, what if your son had died or been injured in that fire, It takes my breath away to think of it.

I wish you lots of luck and prayers to resolve this.

I also caught my son playing with matches at the same age. We have a woodburning stove and he got a hold of some matches on the fireplace ledge. We explained to him calmly that he is smarter than that to touch things he's not supposed to. Also ANY time we here about a fire or something like that we bring up the incident, like "see thats why we dont play with things that cause fires".

We also have a fire pit outside and let him cook marshmallows and throw in trash with our supervision. This helps him not be soooo curious as to sneak to light something on fire in the house. This is why children dig sparklers so much on the 4th. THey are very enchanted by the light of the sparkler.

Theres nothing wrong with your son, he's curious and needs to be supervised a little more. And I think taking him to the fire station is a great idea to get educated.

P.s. We do not let our children play with the woodburning stove at all. We explain only adults mess with that stuff. But at our little bonfires outside in a contained pit under supervision they can have a little fun.

Local Fire Department!!!! take him there, let them talk to him, then show him pictures of burnt down house.....set the imagine in his head of just how deadly fires are.

Question....why after one fire at your sisters are children still able to get their hands on matches??? I know she's your sister....but your childs saftey should be the most important thing. You should talk to your sister. What would u or any parent do if a child would have been killed in that fire?

First, I would start by removing ANYTHING that can start a fire: matches AND lighters. You could have your sister talk about what happened at her house and how it made everyone really sad and scared them. That it could have made someone have to go to the hospital and maybe never see their mom and dad again. (That's how I talk about dangerous things to my son, like running in the road). And, no more candles for you for a while. :(
You could also try a visit to the local fire department and definitely reach out to the fire fighters and see what they suggest and if they'd be willing to talk to your son. Usually they have educational materials at the firehouse that they could give you, including coloring books.
And, a visit to the library would be great to pick up kids books on fires.
No matter what, you must stay firm with him that playing with fire, though fun, is off limits. If you have a fireplace, you can explain that that is the ONLY acceptable place for a fire in your house.
When I was a kid (and teenager), I used to LOVE to play with fire. I remember that the girls across the street went into the woods near our homes and made their own fire. Needless to say, someone saw smoke and called the police and they were up a creek! We lived on a military base, so the police came out in full force with a huge spot light and made an announcement on the megaphone to come out of the woods, etc. They were terrified into NEVER playing with fire again. Then, I remember when I was in 9th grade, I lit a napkin on fire with my parents' candle and it burnt my finger, so I dropped it and it ended up singeing the carpet. Man what a messy mistake. That was the last time I played with fire.
Good luck because fire is SOOOO tempting and exciting to play with.

I agree with the others about having a fireman talk with your son about fire safety or showing him a video on fire safety. I have a 4-year-old (soon-to-be 5)son that is very active and curious. Although I like candles, I have chosen not to light them around him. I only use the torchlights with the safety and I keep them in a container on top of the refrigerator where he can't reach them. This may be something for your sister to consider also since she watches several kids and matches are so easy to light.

My husband is the Assistant Rescue Chief of our township fire dept. He has had several calls from parents like yourself who have similiar issues with their children. How he usually discuees it is to talk to the child about that can happen. Sometimes he shows them photos of recent house fires. From what I have seen....it works. My suggestion to you would be to contact a local fire dept and see if they have any way to help. I live in Salisbury Township...if there is anything I can do to help, please let me know....I have seen the devastating results way too many times!

I think common sense is appropriate here. Take all matches and lighters and lock them up. If the child is found again with them, proper punishment is in order. Children are curious about fire and don't knwo the ramifications. Be safe and lock up all matches and lighters!!!

It's not unusual for kids to be curious with fire. It sounds like you all need to get rid of all candles and lighting material (lighters, matches, etc) and if you keep something in the house for lighting birthday candles or something, then keep it up very high, and I mean very high, so high that climbing on the counter won't let him reach, or just lock it away. Nothing is worse a disaster while waiting for young children to understand not to play with such things. I would be very upset with my sister, especially after having her own house fire, for keeping anything flammable in a child's reach. It's more the adult's fault than the child's, period.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets

Chat and Events, within 2 hour radius

first of all - he may very well have a diagnosable issue - so before you start berating him find out - secondly - call the pediatrician and get their opinion - thirdly - you may want to consider some sort of counselin - churches have some or Diakon family services is great too - fourthly - TAKE ALL FIRE THINGS AWAY - and what i mean by that is literally baby proof the houses - lock it all up - end of story.

also - you may want to start keeping a journal of when things (not just this) happen - acting out - hiding things - fire etc - b/c you may notice a pattern of behaviour that triggers it - or something like that - time of day - etc - could be needing attention - child psych 101 says that negative attention is still attention -

also- try not to judge yourself - assuming that you and your hubby aren't lighting fires on a regular basis its not learned behaviour - also - and no offense - but i would be a little worried about your sister or whomever he's staying with - how is it that one child caught somjething on fire and less than a year later your son was able to catch something on fire - doesnt' sound like all the safety precautions that need to be met are beinf met - just my thoughts.

Good luck and keep us posted!
S. w.

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