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更新时间:2017-4-25 18:34:42 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Sheryl Sandberg: How to Build Resilient Kids, Even After a Loss

Two years ago, in an instant, everything changed for my family and me. While my husband, Dave, and I were on vacation, he died suddenly from a cardiac arrhythmia.


Flying home to tell my 7-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son that their father had died was the worst experience of my life. During that unimaginable trip, I turned for advice to a friend who counsels grieving children. She said that the most important thing was to tell my kids over and over how much I loved them and that they were not alone.


In the fog of those early and brutal weeks and months, I tried to use the guidance she had given me. My biggest fear was that my children’s happiness would be destroyed by our devastating loss. I needed to know what, if anything, I could do to get them through this.


I also started talking with my friend Adam Grant, a psychologist and professor who studies how people find motivation and meaning. Together, we set out to learn everything we could about how kids persevere through adversity.

我也开始和我的朋友亚当·格兰特(Adam Grant)交谈,他是一位心理学教授,专门研究人如何找到积极性和意义。我们一起开始学习我们所能找到的、关于孩子如何在逆境中坚韧不拔的一切东西。

As parents, teachers and caregivers, we all want to raise resilient kids — to develop their strength so they can overcome obstacles big and small. Resilience leads to better health, greater happiness and more success. The good news is that resilience isn’t a fixed personality trait; we’re not born with a set amount of it. Resilience is a muscle we can help kids build.


And every kid faces challenges. Some stumbles are part of growing up. Forgetting lines in a school play. Failing a test. Losing a big game. Seeing a friendship unravel. Other hardships are far more severe. Two out of 10 children in the United States live in poverty. More than 2.5 million kids have a parent in jail, and many endure serious illness, neglect, abuse or homelessness. We know that the trauma from experiences like these can last a lifetime; extreme harm and deprivation can impede a child’s intellectual, social, emotional and academic progress. As a society, we owe all our children safety, support, opportunity and help finding a way forward.


We can start by showing children that they matter. 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?


When the answer is no, kids feel rejected and alone. They become more prone to self-destructive (“Hurting myself isn’t a big deal, since I don’t count anyway”) and antisocial behaviors (“I might be doing something bad, but at least I’ve got your attention”). Others withdraw.

当答案是否定的时候,孩子们会有受排斥和孤独感。他们变得更容易有自我毁灭行为(“伤害自己无所谓,因为我不算数”)和反社会行为(“我可能在做坏事,但至少我得到了你的注意” )。有的孩子则不再与他人交往。

Not long ago, a friend picked up her son from a summer day camp and found him beaming with pride that he’d finished the robot he’d spent two days building. The next morning, he returned to find his robot had been destroyed: Bullies had taken only his apart — and then told him that he was worthless. After that day, his mother watched him sink into a spiral of anxiety and depression. Even when he went back to school in the fall, she recalled, “he’d put on his hoodie and sit in the back, in his own world.”


Adolescents who feel that they matter are less likely to suffer from depression, low self-esteem and suicidal thoughts. They’re less likely to lash out at their families and engage in rebellious, illegal and harmful behaviors. Once they reach college, they have better mental health.


As parents, we sometimes feel helpless because it’s impossible to solve our children’s problems. In those situations, we can still provide support by “companioning” — walking alongside them and listening. Adam told me about evidence-based programs at Arizona State University that help families cope with parental loss and divorce. These programs teach parents to create and maintain warm and strong relationships, communicate openly with children, use effective discipline, avoid depression and help their children develop coping skills and strategies. When families participate in these programs for 10 to 12 sessions, over the next six years children have fewer mental-health and substance-abuse problems, higher grades and better biological stress responses.

作为父母,我们有时会觉得无助,因为我们不可能解决孩子们的所有问题。在这种情况下,我们依然可以通过“陪伴”来提供支持——和他们一起散步,倾听。亚当跟我谈到了亚利桑那州立大学(Arizona State University)推出的帮助家庭应对父母离世或离婚的循证项目。这些项目教家长创造和维持温暖而牢固的关系,与孩子坦诚交流,采用有效的纪律,避免陷入抑郁,帮助孩子找到应对技能和策略。家庭参加这种项目的10至12堂课后,孩子们在接下来的六年里出现精神问题或药物滥用问题的情况更少,学习成绩更好,生物应激反应更佳。

One afternoon, I sat down with my kids to write out “family rules” to remind us of the coping mechanisms we would need. We wrote together that it’s O.K. to be sad and to take a break from any activity to cry. It’s O.K. to be happy and laugh. It’s O.K. to be angry and jealous of friends and cousins who still have fathers. It’s O.K. to say to anyone that we do not want to talk about it now. And it’s always O.K. to ask for help. The poster we made that day — with the rules written by my kids in colored markers — still hangs in our hall so we can look at it every day. It reminds us that our feelings matter and that we are not alone.


Dave and I had a tradition at the dinner table with our kids in which each of us would share the best and worst moments of our day. Giving children undivided attention — something we all know is important but often fail to do — is another of the key steps toward building their resilience. My children and I have continued this tradition, and now we also share something that makes us feel grateful to remind ourselves that even after loss, there is still so much to appreciate in life.


For my friend’s son whose robot was destroyed, a turning point came when one of his former teachers got in touch to see how he was doing and started spending time with him every week. She encouraged him to reach out to other kids and make friends, then followed up, reinforcing each step he took. She cared. He mattered. When a new kid started at the school, the teacher encouraged them to get together, and the friendship took. “It made such a difference for a teacher to take an interest in him and a friend to bond with him,” his mom said. “It was like the sun came out in our house.”


Since my children were so young when they lost their father, I am afraid that their memories of him will fade, and this breaks my heart all over again. Adam and I also learned that talking about the past can build resilience. When children grow up with a strong understanding of their family’s history — where their grandparents grew up, what their parents’ childhoods were like — they have better coping skills and a stronger sense of mattering and belonging. Jamie Pennebaker, a psychologist at the University of Texas, has found that expressing painful memories can be uncomfortable in the moment, but improves mental and even physical health over time.

我的孩子们失去父亲时还很小,我担心他们对他的回忆会逐渐模糊,这让我再次感到心碎。我和亚当也知道,谈论过去能培养适应力。如果孩子在成长过程中非常了解家庭的历史——祖父母是在哪里长大的,父母的童年是怎样的——那么他们会具备更好的应对能力和更强的归属感,会知道自己的重要性。德克萨斯大学(University of Texas)的心理学家杰米·彭尼贝克(Jamie Pennebaker)发现,讲述痛苦的回忆可能会让人当时感觉不舒服,但随着时间的推移,它有利于改善心理甚至身体健康状况。

To keep Dave’s memory alive, I asked dozens of his closest family members, friends and colleagues to capture their stories about him on video. I also taped my children sharing their own memories, so that as they grow up, they will know which are truly theirs. This past Thanksgiving my daughter was distraught, and when I got her to open up, she told me, “I’m forgetting Daddy because I haven’t seen him for so long.” We watched the video of her talking about him, and it gave her some comfort.


Talking openly about memories — not just positive ones, but difficult ones, too — can help kids make sense of their past and rise to future challenges. It’s especially powerful to share stories about how the family sticks together through good times and bad, which allows kids to feel that they are connected to something larger than themselves. Studies show that giving all members of the family a chance to tell their version builds self-esteem, particularly for girls. And making sure to integrate different perspectives into a coherent story builds a sense of control, particularly for boys.


A friend of mine who lost his mother when he was young told me that over time, she no longer seemed real. People were either afraid to mention her or spoke of her in idealized terms. My hope is to hold on to Dave as he really was: loving, generous, brilliant, funny and also pretty clumsy. He would spill things constantly yet was always somehow shocked when he did.


Now, when emotions are running high in our house, but my son stays calm, I tell him, “You are just like your daddy.” When my daughter stands up for a classmate who is getting picked on, I say, “Just like your daddy.” And when either of them knocks a glass over, I say it, too.