5 yo terrified of fire - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-02-2012, 06:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My son, who recently turned 5, is *terrified* of fire drills, alarms, or anything to do with fire. He finished up school for the summer just over a week ago, and has been telling me that he doesn't want to go back in September - tonight he finally told me that it's because he is so scared of the fire alarm. Of course, they need to do drills; for the first few months of school the first thing he told us about his day was that it was good because there wasn't a fire drill. Every day he would ask if there was going to be a drill that day. When they were repairing the system and the alarm went off several times one day recently, his teacher told me that he spent most of the day in his cubby, sobbing with his hands over his ears. I laid in bed with him for a long time, and he just couldn't settle down - he'd pop up his little head with another question: "Was there ever a fire in our house?" "Are all fire extinguishers red?" "How many smoke detectors do we have in our house?" Etc. Of course I answered all of his questions reassuringly, but I know that it still bothers him. We had to leave the grocery store the other day because a bell that rang (when a delivery truck arrived) reminded him of an alarm. He covered his ears, burst into tears and couldn't tell me what was wrong until we were out of the store. (I had tuned out the bell and not even realized that it rang.) It breaks my heart that he's so very scared, and I'm wondering what I can do to help him. I've already talked a lot with him about how the alarms are for safety, and drills are to make sure that everything is working well so everyone's safe. He's extremely intelligent and has been reading since he was 3 1/2, so he logically follows that 'if they need to practice, what is it practice for?' Of course, it's in case of a real fire, and he seems to be scared of getting hurt in a real fire. He says it's the noise that bothers him, but I'm wondering if he saw something somewhere, or if he heard someone talking about a fire, or something like that. I'm thinking that possibly talking more about fires in general, how fire alarms work, and borrowing books from the library etc. might make him more at ease because he is so logical and intelligent. I sometimes work in his school and know the staff, so I'm sure that I could get a map of the alarms, and take him around to see how they work before school starts. On the other hand, I don't want to scare him further. He doesn't have any other things that he's scared of like this; he's generally really happy and open to the world. It's just this one issue, and I don't know how to handle it best. Any help would be great. Thank you.
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Old 07-02-2012, 06:33 PM
 
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In kindergarten or maybe 1st grade there was a fire safety program that scared me badly too. There was a mock house of some kind (rv?) and a drill where groups of kids take turns evacuating it. I was somehow feeling like they'd simulate a fire in there with smoke or something, and had a total breakdown about it. As a result I couldn't light the stove til I was 12 and never sat near campfires, hated candles, incense, etc, and watched any fire I was around very warily after that. I'm still a bit jumpy about fire but can use it ok now. Once the safety rules were learned I felt it was best if they'd quit reinforcing it. Eventually it sunk in that the drills were just practice, there were many drills throughout the grades but there never was a fire, but if there were we'd do the same thing and leave in a line.

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Old 07-03-2012, 06:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much, Jamie. That must have been so frightening for you! Someone else shared almost the same story with me. I think I'll just wait for him to bring it up and keep offering the same reassurances, and hopefully it will sink in. Thank you!

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Old 07-03-2012, 06:05 PM
 
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actually at 5 also many kids hearing is still super sensitive. in dd's K class some of the kids were excused from the fire drill because the sound of the alarm really hurt their ears. 

 

so perhaps you can ask the school if he can stay out of the fire drill, if he wants to. 


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Old 07-03-2012, 06:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think that is definitely part of the problem, too, meemee, and thanks. I'll see what the school says when he goes back; hopefully we'll be able to come up with something that will work for him.
 

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