(please do not post here if you are going to tell me my son is an emotionally disturbed firestarter who is going to burn us all up)
my 8 year old has a intense fascination with fire. we have always taught him fire safety. we have assisted him in learning to start fires in the fire pit and light candles. however, i keep finding evidence of him making poor choices in regards to burning things with incense and now lighting a pencil from halloween candles while his father and i and the 3 year old sleeping the day after halloween.
we have spoken frequently to him about his behavior, but he feels he has mastery over fire and can control it if something bad happens.
investigation online reveals that it is not unusual for kids like him (with poor impulse control and poor planning) to act like he does in regards to fire. i don't want to put him in a firesetting program. but i am not sure how to approach this at home. i'd like to do a formal fire safety program with him, but since we are unschoolers i feel awkward.
any ideas? i don't want to terrify him, but he needs to understand that what he is doing could potentially be very dangerous.
PS, he is my "safe" child. he is usually very careful and safety conscious. i leave him home for short periods of time, and i usually trust him to make good choices. so this is throwing me a bit.
"Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift." -- Mary Oliver
Has he visited a fire station and done the formal tour with the fire safety talk?
He loves fire (I get that- I've always been fascinated with it as well) so talking about safety and taking him to a place where he will hear more about it from a more authoritative person isn't non-unschooling imo.
radically unschooling 3 awesome kids
How clear have you been with him about the safety rules for using fire? We have a wood stove, gas lanterns, candles and incense and my kids have been building fires since age 4 or so. The rules, though, have always been very clear.
You must have adult supervision until you are deemed competent and reliable enough. (Typically for us this was around age 5-6.)
If adult supervision is no longer required, an adult must still be informed, until you are deemed competent and reliable enough. (Typically this was around age 7-8 for my not-impulsive "safe" kids.)
You must clear other combustibles from a 1-metre area.
If outdoors you must have a source of water available.
If indoors you must have the fire extinguisher in the room with you. Which you must, of course, know how to use.
Mountain mama to two great kids and two great grown-ups
Many fire stations/departments have a deterrent program. I would call and ask. I know of a boy who went when he was 12ish. And I get where you are coming from. If you would like (and I can find them) I cam PM you some photos of our house after my then 10 yo made some choices that your son is making now. We lost everything. And no we never actually punished, yelled at, grounded him, etc. He needed more love and understanding that day than the rest of us combined.
My uncle was a firefighter for many many years. He said that in his experience, and from talking to all his firefighter co-workers, the kids who like to play with small, controlled fires, are NOT the ones who are fire starters.
If anything, they're safer since they've done so much experimenting with putting out little fires, and aren't as scared of fire, so if something does go wrong, they handle things before there's a real emergency.
ETA: Okay, posted when I thought you were talking about a kid who was more competent with fire. Bit of a difference between thinking he's in control and actually being in control.
My inclination would be to set up a fire pit, bucket of sand, bucket of water, extinguisher, and tell him to go to town with his experiments. But since he's tried to hide fire play from you, all the matches and such are going to be off limits and locked away because even adults can have problems if things get out of hand.
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