Parents Told to Include Children in Y2K Preparations

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- While parents are busy stockpiling soup and toilet paper for potential Y2K shortages, they may overlook the obvious -- the children.

A Purdue University expert on families says parents should take time to talk to their children who may be wondering why their parents are storing extra food and making other Y2K preparations.

'When children don't understand, problems that may be manageable become very large, complicated and frightening in a child's imagination,' said Aadron Rausch, cooperative extension service specialist and assistant director for outreach with the Purdue Center for Families.

'Kids tend to polarize issues, whether it's a tornado, the Gulf crisis, or Y2K,' Rausch said, adding that this fall semester there may be more anxiety about the issue as the year draws to a close.

One thing parents can do to help their children deal with Y2K is to find out what the child already knows about Y2K: 'Ask them, 'What have you heard about Y2K and what do you think?'' Rausch said. 'Try to find out what your kids have heard in school. What children are learning in school could be a springboard for discussions or an opportunity to clarify inaccurate or inconsistent messages,' she said.

Another important step parents can take is to let children know that the family is prepared for Y2K. 'It is important to let children know that the Y2K issue will not harm them and the family has made every preparation to cope with whatever happens,' Rausch said.

Better, yet, she added, involve the children in the planning process. 'By involving the children, it gives them valuable problem-solving skills so parents can turn Y2K into a positive experience,' she said.