How to Raise Resilient Kids, According to Sheryl Sandberg

It is every parent’s intention to raise resilient kids, giving them the tools to handle whatever situation life throws their way. It sounds like a tall order-and it is-but no one knows more about this than Sheryl Sandberg.

After suddenly losing her husband two years ago, the Facebook COO and best-selling Lean In author faced the challenge of guiding her young children (then 7 and 10 years old) through such an unexpected and trying time. She’s now out with a new book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, to help other parents along their journey, and just provided several tips to the New York Times on what she’s learned about building such resilience in kids.

Tell your kids you love them

This may be something you already do daily, but as a part of building your child’s resilience, it is imperative. Sandberg writes that even in the wake of her own grief, the most important thing was to tell her kids repeatedly how much she loved them and that they were not alone.

sheryl sandberg

Let your kids know their feelings matter

In her new book, Option B, Sandberg states that many people tip-toe around those who’ve suffered trauma for fear of bringing up painful memories, but what that can also do is suggest that one’s trauma or grief doesn’t matter. Your job as a parent is to let them know that their feelings are important.

“Sociologists define ‘mattering’ as the belief that other people notice you, care about you and rely on you. It’s the answer to a vital question that all children ask about their place in the world starting as toddlers, and continuing into and beyond adolescence: Do I make a difference to others?” writes Sandberg. “When the answer is no, kids feel rejected and alone.”

Recharge yourself

There’s no point in burning yourself out if you’re trying to teach your kids to be resilient. If you want them to be resilient, you need to be resilient too. This means you need to take some time for yourself to relax and recharge. Spend an hour or so a day just doing nothing, even if that’s before bed. You’ll feel like you’ve had time to take care of your own resilience, rather than rushing around for everyone else non-stop. 

Let them know that it’s OK

Sandberg recalls sitting down with her children to write out a set of family rules to remind them that their feelings are normal and necessary, as well as to help them cope. The rules include:

It’s OK to be sad and to take a break from any activity to cry.”
“It’s OK to say to anyone that we do not want to talk about it now.”
“It’s OK to be happy and laugh.”

“It’s OK to ask for help.”

Resilience is an essential topic for parents to tackle, especially if your family has navigated through a challenging time. But luckily, Sandberg also writes that resilience is not something we are born with a set amount of, but something we can help kids build over time.

How do you help your kids cope with difficult times?

Pick up a copy of Option B then read How to Raise Socially Aware Children, According to Experts or learn about the Vitamin Gwyneth Paltrow Made Just for Moms.