Parents Told to Include Children in Y2K Preparations

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.

While state extension educators are not reporting any widespread
panic or fear in the schools because of Y2K, Rausch said, some
children do fear the Y2K bug could crash their personal
computers.

Other young people worry that Y2K will wipe out their bank
accounts and their savings will be lost. Rausch said hearing church
sermons about the religious implications of Y2K has spooked some
children.

Contact: Aadron Rausch, cooperative extension specialist,
Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., 765-494-9516.

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