How do I help my child with phobia/fear of fires?

My daughter, age 7, is sleeping in our room on an air mattress and will not go to sleep until we come and lay down with her. She has an extreme fear of fires after seeing the demonstation of a sped up version of a fire spreading through a room. (the one we all saw during fire safety week at school) She feels that we will not get out of the house in time before the fire spreads. We have been through the whole fire plan, have practiced and she understands what to do in case of a fire. She has been to a fire department and has talked with fire safety professionals. She is obsessive about checking that the stove is off and checks the fire detectors each night before going to bed to ensure the "light" is on and the detector is functional. She has been to doctor and put on acid reducing medication due to ulcer-like symptoms from worry. At first I thought she was just pretending in order to sleep in our room, but she has REAL symptoms of fear such as heart racing/palpatations and tremors.

7 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    There are some great suggestions on here and they are worth looking into.

    Here's an idea. How about giving her some of her own fire safety devices to have in her room. A battery powered smoke detector perhaps could help add a sense of security for her and may not be a bad idea. Is her bedroom on a second floor? Obviously a seven year old wouldn't be able to use an escape ladder without help, but knowing that one was there may also add some peace of mind.

    Good luck I hope you get some things figured out that help her.

  • 1 decade ago

    Kids get strange ideas sometimes and they do not have the vocabulary and life experience to articulate their fears. For instance, my granddaughter went through her 1 year as a girl scout daisy (age 4) adamantly refusing to even put on her vest. Every child had one and all the badges were sewn on the vests as they completed their projects. It wan't until the last meeting of the year, during the bridging ceremony to Brownies, that she mentioned that she did not want the pin to hurt her. Those little stars the girls got for whatever (like an pierced earring with a back that prevents it from falling out) somehow, in her mind, she had convinced herself that those pins were actually pressed into the skin of the girls and she was afraid. She wasn't old enought to realize that there would have been blood or crying, she just had this image in her hed.

    You might try acclimating her to fire on a very restrained basis. First - make her feel as safe as possible - put a fire sprayer in every room and buy one or two extra. Make sure the halls have night lights so that if she worries about getting out at night she will know she can see. Make sure she knows how to open the doors and get out of the house (we tell my granddaughter to exit immediately and bang on the neighbors window and have them call the police.) Post the fire department number on each phone.

    Now take her out and try a grill fire - show her how close she can get without being harmed. If you can do it in your county, try a leaf fire, let her practice putting out the fire with the extra extinguishers. Also, tell her that the film was meant to scare people and that fires often do not move that fast. Get a batch of old clothing and books etc from Goodwill, have some of them reasonably damp, take them outside and show her what effort it takes to start a fire. For instance, write down what time it is then light and drop a match. or a cigarette - what you should see is perhaps some flame, some smouldering, probably a lot of smoke. Time how long it takes to actually get to the point where you have a problem. Have her watch how much smoke there is. You want her to try and absorb that 99.9 percent of fires are not flash fires that burn a house to the ground in minutes and that most households, equipped with the proper safety equipment, knowing the warning signals, and having practiced evacuation may end up with structural damage but seldom with injuries.

    Finally, if non of the above help she may be showing signs of depression. At that point you may want to talk to a therapist who specializes in children with OCD/depression or phobias.

  • 1 decade ago

    I used to have that, but it was with storms and not fires. If there were storms or even if it was cloudy i would get panic attacks constantly. You need to convince her that there isnt going to be a fire and that if there is one that the smoke detector will go off giving her enough time to be safe. Also if you give her a massage to relax her a little bit before she goes to sleep might help.

  • 1 decade ago

    OMG! Does she really feel so. I think you can just let her try to light up the stove during cooking and let her try tp light up the candle. Just let her get a little bit closer to fire things and let her understand that accidents will not happened if proper steps and care are there.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    A phobia (from the Greek φόβος "fear"), is a strong, persistent fear of situations, objects, activities, or persons. The main symptom of this disorder is the excessive, unreasonable desire to avoid the feared subject. When the fear is beyond one's control, or if the fear is interfering with daily life, then a diagnosis under one of the anxiety disorders can be made.


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  • 1 decade ago

    You must convince her that there is nothing to be afraid of and that it will happen whether she is afriad or not if its going to, don't lay with her, let her finally go to sleep and realize there is nothing to fear. Prayer always helps as well.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    um people should be afraid of fires fires are bad maybe if she had good fire safety she could learn how to avoid them.

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