Firesetting in Children Stages

Firesetting is a dynamic behavior

that happens in different developmental periods of children and includes differing motives. Young children are naturally fascinated with fire and have a natural curiosity about it. When a child becomes interested in flames, she wants to play with them and see how it works. She has learned how to treat fire safely over time. However, some youngsters, despite being aware of the dangers of fire, can engage in a dangerous activity that endangers themselves and others.

Stages leading up to the start of a fire

Fire interest, fireplay, and firesetting are the phases that contribute to firesetting in children.

Fire interest

Most children between ages 3-5 years develop an interest in their surroundings and try to experiment with things around them including fire. At this stage, children may start including fire scenarios in their various activities like using toy stoves in cooking. Likewise, their desire to light matches or watch fire develops. Despite been fascinating, parents should always warn their on the dangers of fire.


Fire interest may lead to fireplay since the urge to know how fire functions is cultivated in children as they grow. This phase happens in children between ages 5-9 years and affects mostly boys. For example, aggressive children may try to light different materials to compare their flammability degree.


Children whose ages are over 10 years have learnt the correct and proper way of using fire. Likewise, they know that fire is dangerous and it can not only burn them but also other people and cause damage to property. However, some children may exhibit inappropriate behavior while using fire. For example, a child may try to set up fire with the aim of harming others due to anger or aggression.


At age ten, the child has known dangers and consequences of fire. Parents should be concerned when their child who is over ten years continues to experiment with fire. At this age, the child objective is to damage proper or draw attention.


Bartol, C., & Bartol, A. (2014). Criminal Behavior a Psychological Aspproach (10th ed.).

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