SHERYL: 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, and 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 10 turns. You can do 10 turns.” And so I counted out my 10 turns. I went back to that after Dave died. Because everything felt like a mountain.
SHERYL: 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. And 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. 10 turns. One turn, then another.
Option B Raising Resilient Kids with Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant Authors of Option B
ADAM: People often marvel at how resilient kids are, sometimes noticing that kids seem to be more resilient than adults. There is actually a neurological basis for this. Kids have more neuroplasticity than adults do.
Kids' brains are able to adapt quickly to new and stressful situations
ADAM: It's easier for their brains to adapt to new situations and to stressful situations as well.
ADAM: I started talking to Sheryl about some of the, you know, concrete actions she could take that might help her kids through this.
SHERYL: I sat down with my kids to make family rules.
SHERYL: So 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 gonna need cry breaks, the sadness is gonna come over you when you don't want it to. Like when you're in school.
SHERYL: 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.
It's important for kids to feel comfortable asking for help
SHERYL: And what he learned is that his friends wanted to be with him through the cry breaks, that he mattered to them and he didn't have to go through it alone.
ADAM: One of the things that, that turns out to be a critical resource when kids face adversity, whether it's big or small, is mattering. Mattering is, 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?
Mattering: Knowing that others notice you, care about you, and rely on you
SHERYL: Adam showed me one longitudinal study on children who have lost parents. He told me I needed to, from that study, work on setting up a new family unit.
Setting up a new family unit reassures children that family life continues
SHERYL: We were supposed to have family time. We called it Family Awesome Funtime, FAF, faff. And 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.
SHERYL: I take pictures of the three of us all the time, because Adam told me that was important to make 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.