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How to Get a Child to Quit Playing With a Lighter

by Maggie McCormick, studioD

It's normal for children to be attracted to fire and play with lighters, but that behavior could easily hurt your child, your home and other people. Playing with lighters is serious business and you need to end it as soon as you see it. Many children simply don't realize the harm they could do with a lighter.

Keep lighters out of reach. While you might want to have a lighter around to start a fireplace fire, light candles or the outdoor grill, children should not have easy access to lighters. Place them in out-of-reach cabinets or in locked drawers.

Talk to your child about the dangers of fire. Show him that you understand he is curious about fires, but let him know that one small mistake could mean that the entire house could burn down, and that people he loves could die. It's a scary message, but it gets the seriousness across.

Set specific rules and consequences for playing with lighters. Once your child understands that fire is dangerous, let him know that there is a "No playing with lighters" rule in your home. Assign a consequence, such as extra chores or losing video game privileges that will occur if he is caught playing with a lighter.

Involve a child psychologist if the problem is too big for you to handle. Many children play with lighters because they are curious and unaware of the dangers. Other children play with lighters with more malicious intent. If your child is the latter, a psychologist can help her work through her feelings in a more productive way.


  • According to Fireproof Children/Prevention First, children are most likely to play with lighters in their own room, in the closet. If you're not sure you can trust your child, consider placing a smoke detector in his bedroom. That might alert you if he's playing with fire.


  • According to the U.S. Fire Administration, children can easily confuse novelty lighters with toys and thus might try to play with them, not realizing that it's a dangerous tool. Avoid these types of lighters in particular, sticking with the more traditional styles, particularly ones that have child safety in mind.

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

Photo Credits

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