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4 Year old is scared to go upstairs alone

My partners 4 year old son is scared to go upstairs alone, there was an incident involving smoke ever since he's scared says theres smoke everywhere he will wee himself instead of going to the toilet, its only in our house. Can anybody give us some advice? Thank you

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Asked by RachG25 at 6:57 AM on May. 13, 2011 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 2 (5 Credits)
Answers (7)
  • I know it's frustrating but he has suffered a trauma. Children simply don't process like we do. Might be worth talking to the doctor to get some counselling support for him.

    Answer by Nonoluna at 7:05 AM on May. 13, 2011

  • I agree with pp. Meanwhile someone has to take the child upstairs. The child needs reassurance that nothing bad is going to happen.

    Answer by Anonymous at 7:13 AM on May. 13, 2011

  • My kids also won't go up alone. I was also scared of that as a kid. I think it's normal. Go up with him.

    Answer by mompam at 7:16 AM on May. 13, 2011

  • I agree with anon....he needs reassurance that it's ok. Turn on lights, stand at the bottom of the stairs after you go up with him a few times. If it was a traumatizing experience you can't expect him to get over it and go up alone.


    Answer by BeachyBabe at 7:17 AM on May. 13, 2011

  • This is a big issue and may take quite a while for him to get over. You need to realize this and be very patient and understanding. This is not just a normal "I'm afraid", this is a real trauma to him. His world is small where just sounds and shadows frighten him so when something that is real that he has been taught to be afraid of happens, it is not just going to go away.

    It may help to get him a special object that he can hold that will make him feel safe. Also point out all the smoke detectors in the house. Test them and show him that they work. Talking about fire safety and your families plan so that he knows you are safe will help ease his mind.

    Answer by sipn_mom at 8:50 AM on May. 13, 2011

  • He might also be afraid he either couldn't get down fast enough, or you couldn't get up fast enough if he needed you. It's scary up there anyway... maybe as a family, spend more time up there together. Then you can slowly work on him standing at the stairs while you go down and eventually leave his sight. But at 4, I wouldn't discount him and just settle for "he's scared." He just needs some more kind exposure to them. Maybe later on, practice a fire drill, with your voice as the siren, of course. As he gets older, maybe practice with the alarm. They are loud and frightening, too. Just go slow, mama.

    Answer by matobe at 8:59 AM on May. 13, 2011

  • Behavioral therapy often means baby steps. Start with playing slinky on the stairs themselves. Then perhaps prizes or stickers to retrieve on the higher stairs, then do something fun or a reason for going to the stair landing and finally a family game night in an upstairs room. Go together. Talk about the child's fears. What was it that was scary, it might be a small thing or the whole event. Discuss safety and how you fixed it. Visit a fire station. Take it slow but don't let it stir too long without any action or the smoke will become monsters and it will just get worse.

    Answer by hotelmom123 at 10:59 AM on May. 13, 2011

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