Ring the alarm

Our son has always been a strong personality. You’ll always know what’s on his mind, he can’t contain his emotions well at all and quickly flies off the handle. ‘Chill’ is never a word you would ever use to describe him! He’s got none of it! Sometimes I find for me that it’s easy to confuse that with teflon. To think that nothing gets to him. To think he’s tough and resilient. I’ve known deep down that’s not the case. I know that behind all the boldness that he conveys is a very sensitive, loving, and now more recently, insecure little guy and it’s breaking our hearts!

Almost 2 weeks ago at school a scheduled fire alarm went off in the daycare and simply put, it scared the living shit out of him. He’s not been the same since and I’m really at a loss as to how to help him. Basically, since the alarm he’s been afraid to leave the bathroom or bathroom area of his daycare room and has been almost entirely refusing to eat while he’s at daycare. The food thing would scare me but unfortunately for us he’s always been a very poor eater (like his Daddy) with a spotty appetite at best. He’ll eat a big breakfast for sure, and the morning has always been when he consumes the most food of the whole day. So for now, let’s take the food thing out of the equation because I know at least he’s getting lots of food at home with us in addition to his vitamin.

It’s the anxiety he clearly feels in the classroom because of the alarm that went off. He’s just 3 so he’s having a hard time understanding the difference between ‘alarm’ and ‘fire’ so when it comes up I try to explain the difference and tell him that there’s no fire and that he is safe. When I went to pick him up yesterday from daycare I watched through the 1 way mirror for few minutes. He was wandering around with his blankey which is supposed to only be for nap. He wasn’t huddled in a corner or anything like that which is great but clearly the blankey was offered to help comfort him. When I went into the room to scoop him up into a big hug he hugged me and told me about his day then pointed at the fire alarm light on the wall. I can’t remember his words exactly but clearly there’s an anxiety about it. I don’t know what needs to happen next. I’m out of my depth but I know that something needs to happen so that this anxiety doesn’t turn into a full blown obsession that prevents him from enjoying his life. Please help?! Does anyone have experience with anything like this? A sudden fear? Separation Anxiety?


xo Kristin


One thought on “Ring the alarm

  1. Hello Kristin. How are you?
    I have had experience of this with children in my class. There are a few things that i usually try to do to help limit any possible situations where children feel scared:

    1. I always explain to the children in my class what the alarm is, and why we need to have fire drills (I do this frequently, and way before we ever have a drill) Although the children in my classes are young (3-5), they understand a lot more than we realise. When I talk to them, i also ask them if they want to ask any questions or say anything they are feeling about alarms/fire.

    2. We rehearse fire drills in the classroom. I make a high pitched noise or play an alarm noise on the computer (start quiet and turn it up quite loud – this can prepare the children for the harsh sound of an alarm). Then we all line up and pretend to exit the building. We sometimes time it. Then I give lots of praise, e,g, ‘well done for lining up quickly’, ‘well done for not being scared’, ‘well done for not screaming’

    3. Speak to parents if I feel their child has an issue with alarms. Often it helps if parents also speak to their children – ask them what part of the alarm/fire they are scared of. If it’s just the noise, then they can play alarm sounds of increasing volume to get used to. if it is the prospect of a fire, then remind the child that the reason we have the loud alarm is to protect us.

    4. Invite firefighters into the classroom to do a talk. the kids love this! They show the kids their uniforms and equipment. We’ve even used the hoses outside! This makes children more aware of the fact that there are people to help us in case of a fire.

    I think the most important thing is to make sure your child feels like they can talk about any anxiety he has – through drawings, role-play and discussions (for young children).
    Also, some children just don’t like the loud noise…the more they practise a fire drill, the more used to the noise they will get 🙂

    Good luck Kristin, and I hope you are doing well.
    – Carly


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