My daughter is full of anxiety right now. She keeps saying “What if my house burns down?” She is terrified to go to sleep.
At school, they had the fire practice house come for a demonstration. They had the kids crawl through the house filled with smoke (fog), and climb out a window with the help of a firefighter. This activity has traumatized her.
She started just asking questions about it. And then started talking about how she would have no toys if she lost them all in a fire. And then the tears came at night. She is terrified to be in her room. She is terrified in the morning to be away from me in the house. She is terrified to enter the house ahead of me if she is more than a few steps ahead.
I’m exhausted. Life is exhausting right now – between work, a 4 month old, and everyday life. And my 5 year old has some severe anxiety. This is different than just misbehaving because it involves feelings. I believe everyone has a right to their feelings, no matter how irrational they may seem to other people. So, even though I feel like her fear is irrational, given all the things we’ve done to reassure her- they are her feelings and I have to respect that. So I’ve treated her with lots of love and caring and answered a million questions calmly and patiently.
I told her I needed to go fold the clothes and she said “The house is going to burn down anyways.” She hears the sum pump kick in, or the heat, and jumps- even though it sounds nothing like a fire alarm.
We’ve made a fire escape plan. We’ve practiced the plan. She has a step stool under one window and her bed under another. She knows where to go. She’s given me a bunch of scenarios including how I will get her AND her sister out the window. It’s gotten to the point where I am worrying myself and making sure there is a baby carrier in the baby’s room so I can attach her to me before going out the window, where I will then catch the 5 year old- while wearing the baby.
I had a firefighter come over and talk to her. He even had notes on things we would say to her. He brought her a stuffed animal and a necklace that says 911 on it. (She informed him that she cannot call because she doesn’t not have a phone of her own) He brought coloring books. He practiced opening her window with her and putting towels at the bottom of her door. She was able to ask him questions and made sure to tell him how I set off the fire alarm all the time when I’m cooking . (True story).