How do we help children face grief or hardship? Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant share concrete actions we can take to help our children build resilience, including making sure they know they aren't facing adversity alone.
- When I was 16, I went skiing for the very first time and I was not a good athlete as a child, like terrible, and I was afraid. I was with my mom and we went up the wrong way and we wound up on what was a really hard run, and I remember just sitting down in the snow and crying. I will never get down this mountain, and my mom said to me, "Don't look down the mountain, "just do ten turns. "You can do ten turns." So, I counted out my ten turns. I went back to that after Dave died, because everything felt like a mountain. When Dave wasn't there to take my son to one of his basketball games, I pictured every basketball game for the rest of my son's life without his father.
I realized, I couldn't solve the whole problem. I didn't have to get down the whole mountain, and so I started doing small things. Ten turns, one turn, then another. (light instrumental music) - People often marvel at how resilient kids are. Sometimes noticing that kids seem to be more resilient than adults. There's actually a neurological basis for this. Kids have more neuroplasticity than adults do. It's easier for their brains to adapt to new situations and to stressful situations as well.
(light instrumental music) I started talking to Cheryl about some of the concrete actions she could take, that might help her kids through this. - I sat down with my kids to make family rules. Rule number one was respect our feelings. It's okay to be angry, it's okay to be sad, it's okay to be jealous. I had to tell my kids you cannot go through this alone, you're going to need cry breaks. Sadness is going to come over you when you don't want it to, like when you're in school, and helping them ask a friend to go outside with them, to be there with them as they cried, that's hard for a child, especially a 10-year-old boy, but you know what? My son did it.
(light instrumental music) What he learned is that his friends wanted to be with him through the cry breaks, and he mattered to them and he didn't have to go through it alone. - One of the things that turns out to be a critical resource when kids face adversity, whether it's big or small, is mattering. Mattering is the belief that other people notice you, care about you, and rely on you. It's the answer to the question, do I have significance in the world? (light instrumental music) - Adam showed me one longitudinal study on children who have lost parents.
He told me I needed to, from that study, needed to work on setting up a new family unit. (light instrumental music) We were supposed to have family time. We called it Family Awesome Fun time, F-A-F, FAF. We did it every week for a year, it was an hour a week. One of us got to pick an activity. It wasn't allowed to be TV watching, it had to be something active like making a meal or playing a game. I take pictures of the three of us all the time, because Adam told me that was important to my kids feel like they still had a family unit.
Every picture that's taken of the three of us, I feel Dave's absence to this day, but I also feel good about those pictures. I feel like I'm taking an affirmative step to do something that helps my kids recover and rebuild. (light instrumental music)
For additional resources and support, check out OptionB.Org, a nonprofit initiative dedicated to helping individuals build resilience in the face of adversity.