Ask Grandma Maggie

Parenting & Childcare Advice
Peggy Moss (1933-2014), also known as Grandma Maggie, penned a parenting column on this site for many years. Back by popular demand, we are republishing the column, sharing with you the best of Grandma Maggie’s parenting and childcare advice.
Unfortunately Grandma Maggie is no longer able to take questions.

My kids are scared in our new home

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Hi Grandma Maggie,

I came upon your page and figured I’d give it a shot on this issue we’re having in our home.

My husband, kids and I just moved into a new house. For the first time we have a smoke alarm in every bedroom as well as a security system that we have no idea how to use. About a week ago, my husband was fooling around with it. I walked in front of one of the motion sensors and set it off by accident. The system started beeping, flashing and TALKING, startling everyone in the house, especially my 6yr son and 3yr daughter. I explained to them that it was just Daddy trying to figure out the system and everything was okay, but since then, getting the two of them to bed has been a NIGHTMARE. scared

Both of them are petrified of the smoke alarms, which flashes a tiny light every 30 seconds or so, in their rooms. They’re afraid that it’s watching them while they’re sleeping or that if they walk under it while it flashes, it’s going to go off again. My 3-year-old wet her bed the other night because she was too scared to walk to the bathroom for fear that when she walked by the motion sensor, the system would go off. We don’t even put it on!

I have no idea what to do. I can’t take the alarms off the ceiling. I don’t want to explain to them what the system is or what the alarms in the bedrooms are for in fear of getting them more scared. Any ideas?

Dear Mom,

The first thing you do is try to track down the makers of the alarm system. Once you do that, call their customer service department and ask them how to handle the system. Perhaps you could arrange to have a representative sent to your home to explain it. If you cannot find the manufacturer, then ask the former owners or their realtor if they can help you.

Next explain to the children it’s like having a kind adult, maybe a policeman, helping you watch over them and care for them, just in case there is trouble in their room.

My best,
Grandma Maggie