New Game Helps Children Feel Less Anxious  About Y2K
            by Rondalyn V. Whitney

Y2K Connections is a scenario game that addresses the unpredictable problems associated with Y2K. While there is increasing coverage in the media, very little information on how to prepare and organize for the year 2000 transition has been published. This seemingly simple card game helps to prepare us for plausible worst-case Y2K scenarios so we can avoid at least some of them.

The game comes with directions on an audiocassette tape and in written form to appeal to multiple learning styles. Players select cards and answer the questions presented. Bonus cards get you extra game pieces which all combine to make a huge puzzle of the globe. This cooperative game can be played on many levels.

What I like is that the kit helps kids who are concrete, literal, and anxiety prone to deal with some of their non-articulated fears/concerns about Y2K in a positive manner. The questions posed are based on the author's research that identified plausible situations that we may encounter at the turn of the New Year. The questions are thought provoking. For example, one card asks, "While you doubt the doomsayers' disaster scenarios, you can imagine irritating inconveniences, including electrical brownouts that disrupt your television viewing [and Nintendo play]. What hobbies could you take up for relaxation that require no electricity or purchased supplies?"

For children who are literal and concrete, it promotes creative thinking but with a rational and logical base from which to start. The game has helped to decrease the anxiety of the children and adults I've played it with. The process promotes an increased understanding, develops thinking strategies that promote preparedness, and facilitates communication. When we played, my son Zac said, "I don't really want to think about Y2K, it makes me scared." (I'd never imagined that!) We talked about being prepared as a way to stave off worry, that preparation for what you can anticipate leaves you room and resources to deal with the unknown, etc.

It's fun spirit promotes problem solving on abstract and large problems and leaves the child empowered to make simple changes. Our son helps us put away groceries that we'd like to have it the electricity goes off (we have lots of cereal stashed) and this week we're off to buy that fire extinguisher I've been meaning to buy for years. This models for him how to plan for problems in a logical, sequential manner which appeals to his learning style and, in therapy lingo, is an important life skill to develop. Our son feels comforted and encouraged now where, before, he was scared and unable to articulate it.

In the book, The Explosive Child the author talks about how children have "meltdowns". What he doesn't offer, are ways to anticipate and prevent meltdowns. As the end of the year 1999 approaches, children who are prone to anxiety but who have difficulty expressing their emotions will quite likely grow increasingly anxious. Meltdowns will occur more frequently because of this vague, internal sense of dis-ease. This game can be one of those prevention strategies by bringing those vague feelings out for discussion and resolution. I highly recommend this game for children and adults and especially for children with learning problems. For more information or to attain a copy of the Y2K Connections Game contact Jan Nickerson at Y Connect, or at 222 Old Connecticut Path, Wayland MA 01778. (508) 358 7002; email: