How to Punish a Child for Using a Lighter

Discovering a child playing with a lighter incites panic in most parents, and rightly so. Children set more than 35,000 fires each year, according to the experts at the University of Michigan Health System. Preschool- and kindergarten-age children are most likely to set fires, and the fires usually start in their bedrooms, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Many young children lack an understanding of the potential disastrous consequences of fire. Children caught playing with lighters need education and punishment to deter them from playing with fire again.

Prevent a Child from Playing with Fire

  1. Educate your child about fire safety. Many young children accidentally set fires while playing with matches or lighters.

  1. Teach your child how to respond to a fire. Many children set fires in an enclosed space, such as a closet, and they aren't sure how to respond once the fire starts, according to Kids Health.

  1. Talk regularly about fire to your child. Children often become curious about fire when they see parents light birthday candles or start a campfire. Discuss the importance of keeping fires contained and explain that only adults may start fires.

Punishment for Playing with Fire

  1. Create a rule about lighters and matches. Explain the consequence for breaking the rule.

  1. Follow through with the consequence if you discover your child playing with a lighter. Take away privileges, such as the use of electronics, as a punishment. Explain by saying "You broke the rule about playing with the lighter. You have lost your electronics privileges for 1 week."

  1. Seek professional help if your child appears to be fascinated with fire or if your child attempts to play with fire repeatedly. A child with heightened interest in fire may have an underlying mental health issue.

  2. Tips

    Keep lighters and matches in a secure location.


    Model fire safety for your child, such as how to put out a campfire.


    Keep working smoke detectors in your home and practice fire drills with the entire family.


    Allowing smoking in your home may send the wrong message to your child. Children may become more curious about lighters when they see an adult light cigarettes inside the home.