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Susan Witte

Hello! My name is Susan Witte, I am (among other things) a journalist and this is my personal blog. I post here a lot of random stuff I write (in English and Portuguese); photos I take; videos I make; or anything else I found worth sharing. Feel free to leave comments, even if you don’t agree with me – I love to debate. I hope you enjoy my little space here and thank you for your visit!

Click here if you only wish to view posts in English.

 

Olá! Meu nome é Susan Witte e eu sou, entre muitas outras coisas, jornalista. Você está no meu blog pessoal, onde eu posto meus textos (em português e inglês), fotos e videos – ou qualquer outra coisa que eu achar interessante. Fique à vontade para deixar comentários, mesmo que não concorde comigo (adoro um debate!). Espero que goste desse meu espacinho de mundo e obrigada pela visita!

Clique aqui se só quiser visualizar posts em português.

Hi, I`m an immigrant

Hey there, my name is Susan, and a lot of people hate me. They are very concerned with my impact on their country`s economy, and that I might be abusing the system. They believe I should be sent back to my country of origin and only come back if I have the skills they need. I`m an immigrant on benefits in the UK.

Let me clarify something, though: I do work. I just don’t make enough money to support my family, and I’m a single mother, so I get help from the government. I’m very grateful I am having the opportunity to live in a house that’s big enough for me and my family, that I don’t struggle to buy food, that my son can go to childcare while I work, that I get to spend time with him, too. I didn’t want to be in a situation where I need benefits and I’m working my way out of it so I won’t need help in the future. However, being in this situation was out of my control, so I’m glad I had this option. Others aren’t so happy about it.

According to a 2013 survey, more than half the British population believes that the cost of having immigrants outweigh the benefits. A lot of people are concerned about the “benefit tourists” and immigration is perceived as one of the most important issues the UK faces. This is one of the main reasons Brexit is happening, so this perception is causing major changes in the UK policy and may have a huge impact in its economy and politics.

Don’t get me wrong, I have never been mistreated and nobody has ever been rude to me or told me I should leave. In fact, when I catch people making negative comments on immigration and I remind them I’m an immigrant myself, I often hear: “But I don’t see you as an immigrant”, or “You’re not the problem”. The problematic immigrant is not usually the one close to you, it’s this distant image of an ill-intentioned, strange looking guy, speaking another language and taking advantage of anything he can. I don’t look like that guy. Personally, I don’t know anyone who looks like that guy. Most people don’t.

The Migration Observatory points out that “In something of a paradox, while vast majorities view migration as harmful to Britain, few claim that their own neighbourhood is having problems due to migrants”. Surveys show that a minority of the British population think the nearby migrants are the problem. In fact, the most contact people have with immigrants, the more positive is their view of them. It might seem a lot when we say that, in 2013, more than half of Britain believed there were too many immigrants in the country; but in 1970, about 90% of people had this view. The number of people who have this negative view of immigrants have been steadily decreasing since then, as the presence of foreigners increases.

There has been a spark in migrations to the UK since 2013, with a rapid increase of people arriving from a variety of countries. How did that affect the public impressions of foreigners? Positively! Though most people still believe immigrants have a negative impact on the economy and cultural life in Britain, this is slowly changing:

Similarly, in the US, the voters who most supported Trump, who based his campaign largely on the “immigration problem”, were the least likely to have contact with immigrants: the people living in small towns. Most of the big cities and areas with a multicultural environment, had less people vote for Trump, according to the exit polls (red is votes for Trump and blue is votes for Hillary):

It seems that, getting to know immigrants may actually change your view of them (really!). When you get to know them, you might realise they are not very different from you at all. Maybe the reasons why they came to the UK are actually something you’d do, if you were in their position. The UK is actually one of the countries where most nationals emigrate, with 8% of its citizens living in another country.

 

Why do people come to the UK?

Most people come here to work. The second favourite reason is to study and the third is to join someone, like a spouse. Moving countries is not easy and I had different reasons to do so. I think nobody moves to a different place for one reason only. I had to make huge sacrifices to be able to move here and it wasn’t a decision taken lightly.

I was married to an Englishman and we lived in Brazil for 5 years. He started missing home and his family a lot, so we decided to make plans for a move to the UK. That was 2014, I was in my last year in University and didn’t want to rush out of the country. My graduation research was going to be published into a book and I wanted to take care of all that before I left.

A couple of things changed our plans completely, they happened sort of at the same time. Brazil was entering a political and economic crisis, a lot of companies downsized, including the one my husband worked for and he was one of the many employees who were laid off. I then discovered I was pregnant. We lost our health insurance and were both working as freelance teachers, so there were a lot of uncertainties in our minds. We decided it would be best to move to the UK earlier than we had planned.

It wasn’t easy. We saved money, sold furniture and electronics, our car, gave lots of stuff away. Because the currency suffered a huge drop with the political crisis, our money wasn’t much when we arrived in the UK. We weren’t entitled to benefits (it’s not as easy as you think) so my husband had to find a job quickly. I wasn’t there for my book launch, I couldn’t attend any of the events I was invited to lecture at, I made huge sacrifices in my career.

Why did I do all that? For my son. It was important to me that he would have access to healthcare, to a good education, that he would be safe and that I’d be around to raise him instead of working ten hours a day like I was doing in Brazil. The UK is an attractive destination for migrants because it offers these basic human rights to everyone. In most parts of the world, basic human rights are a luxury.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Brazil and I miss it a lot. I often think about going back. I miss the social life, the weather and the friendly, happy people. But then I remember the stress and my son doesn’t deserve it. No one deserves it, but most don’t have a choice.

What do I mean about stress? Well, I noticed how stressed I was when I travelled to California in February, 2014. The day I arrived, a friend picked me up from the airport and parked outside a restaurant to pick up a takeaway and told me to wait in the car. As I waited, I didn’t relax. I kept looking to the review mirrors looking for a person or a motorcycle approaching the car. I was afraid of being robbed or kidnapped; it took me a few minutes to realise I was being silly, it wasn’t going to happen there. I was in California for a few weeks and the feeling of being able to relax a little for the first time in years is hard to describe.

I used to drive to work in Sao Paulo, the largest city in Brazil and there was a lot of traffic. While I was stuck in traffic, it was common to see a motorcyclist stop next to a car, take a gun out and ask the driver for money and valuables. There’s no escape, I was just sitting in my car wondering when it was going to be me. I would hide my bag under my seat and keep a fake wallet and phone near me, ready to give to the next criminal to approach me. It’s a risky move. If they realise you tricked them you might get shot. Luckily, though I’ve been physically attacked by muggers before, none of them had a gun. In fact, I was only held at gun point by police. What had I done wrong? Nothing. Where there’s a lot of violence and crime, the police tend to be more aggressive, too. It’s a snow ball.

Brazil has a high murder rate, worse than Iraq. A woman is raped in Brazil every 11 minutes. It has one of the worst wealth distribution. The government recently signed a decision to cut all investments in health and education for the next 20 years. I don’t want this for my son. If you are a parent, we probably have that in common.

Nowadays, I still sometimes hold my breath when I hear a motorcycle. When a stranger is walking towards me, I look at their hands, to see if they’re reaching for a gun or a knife. It’s only for a second, then I remember I’m not in Brazil and I relax. I can only begin to imagine what it’s like for a Syrian refugee when they have crossed the border and they hear an airplane. Imagine this: what does it feel like to feel panic, then realise it’s just a plane, not a Russian bomber? That’s an exercise we all need to do before we say no to refugees. Ask ourselves this kind of questions. What does it feel like when your one-year-old hears an airplane noise and says “bomb” before he’s even learned to say “dog”. What does it feel like for a ten-year-old refugee in Europe who doesn’t want to go to school because his school got bombed back in Syria and he saw his friends die?

I’m not saying all immigrants are good, all I’m saying is: get to know them. The odds are it’ll change your view on immigration.

 

But is immigration actually bad for the UK?

According to the Migrants and Citizens website, “there is no foundation for the claim that immigration is undermining the British welfare state. In fact, it looks like the opposite is true”. Almost 93% of benefits go to UK nationals:

The site further explains that:

“In fact, all the data points to the fact that the vast majority of EU migrants actually pay into the UK’s social security system without taking as much out. A 2009 UCL study, comparing net tax receipts with likely expenditure, suggested that Eastern European A8 migrants paid in 35% more than they were likely to receive in welfare services, while natives’ taxes were equivalent to only 80% of the money they received in benefits. These A8 migrants in the UK – are also 60% less likely than natives to receive state benefits or tax credits, and 58% less likely to live in social housing. Although different models of income and outgoings shifted the balance slightly in local citizens’ favour, the overall conclusion was clear: ‘A8 immigrants are unambiguously net fiscal contributors, while natives are unambiguously receiving more than they contribute’.These findings have since been confirmed by a follow-up study released late in 2014, which calculated that EU migrants who have arrived in Britain since 2000 have made a net fiscal contribution of £20bn (non-EU migrants’ net contribution over the same period was £5bn)”.

Basically, I’m the exception here. Most immigrants contribute more than they receive in the UK and I’m hoping to join them soon. Sending immigrants away may actually result in a cut on benefits and pensions for British citizens and less investment for the NHS, not the opposite.

 

My unrequested advice:

  • If you are British, get to know foreigners, learn more about their countries and the situation around the world.
  • If you are an immigrant, join groups that are working to inform and fighting for migrant’s rights in the UK. One Day Without Us and The 3 Million are examples.
  • When feeling discriminated, try talking sensibly about how you feel and avoid accusing others of wrongdoing (unless it’s clearly a case for the police), they might not have noticed they’ve done something. Do talk about it, though.
  • Empathy is underrated and should be exercised more often. Whether you are an immigrant or a UK national, try to imagine what it’s like to be in a different situation; try to understand the reason why people do the things they do.
  • Be sceptical of politicians who blame immigrants for the country’s problems, this is the oldest trick for manipulation. Make sure you fact check all of their claims.

Resposta a Luiz Felipe Pondé

Leia o texto de Pondé aqui.

A conta do sofrimento masculino com a emancipação feminina chegou, e ela se chama seleção natural. É isso, meu caro darwininsta, a evolução da espécie prossegue, quer você acompanhe, quer não. Quem não se adapta às mudanças do meio ambiente vai se perdendo na seleção natural. Mas, como Darwin defendeu – e talvez você tenha perdido essa parte do darwinismo ao perder seu tempo defendendo sua simplificação interpretada por Herbert Spencer – a sociabilidade é de suma importância para se obter vantagem evolutiva; formar conexões é tão importante quanto acasalar para a sobrevivência da espécie. Então, não se preocupe, nós feministas não o deixaremos para trás.

Vamos começar com alguns esclarecimentos. Em sua coluna, você pergunta: “O que será o homem do século 21?”. Ele continuará sendo homem, igualzinho antes. A gente só espera que ele seja mais empático, e isso serve para as mulheres também.

Tenho que discordar de que “à medida que se torna mais inteligente (…) mais ele ficará interessado em si mesmo”. Ao que tudo indica, quanto mais inteligentes, mais interesse temos nos outros. Isso não é um discurso feminista cheio de mimimi; estou falando de neurociência, psicologia social, teoria do apego. Vou explicar melhor.

No estudo do desenvolvimento infantil, sabe-se que as crianças mais bem apegadas – que possuem figuras de apego, como a mãe, pai ou outro adulto significativo – se tornam mais inteligentes (Sunderland, 2016) (Rifkin, 2009) (Mooney, 2010). Isso ocorre porque, ao se sentirem seguros, os bebês e as crianças estão livres para explorar e aprender; sem o stress da autopreservação, já que um adulto está cuidando disso para eles, há mais espaço para o cérebro se desenvolver (Zeedyk).

Em um experimento famoso desenvolvido por Harry Harlow, macaquinhos bebês tiveram as mães substituídas por uma mãe postiça. Metade deles recebeu uma mãe de pano, bem confortável, e a outra metade uma mãe de fios, menos agradável para se aconchegar. Ambas as mães davam leite, para que os macacos fossem nutridos adequadamente. Os macacos com as mães de pano sobreviveram com muito mais sucesso que os macacos com as mães de fios, mesmo quando o leite deixou de ser oferecido. O experimento demonstra a importância de o bebê se sentir seguro e conectado para sobreviver, algo que é semelhante em todos os mamíferos.

Quanto mais apego, mais carinho ela recebe, mais inteligente e resiliente se torna a criança, além disso, ela se torna mais empática. E a empatia é parte essencial na máquina evolutiva de nossa espécie. Sem ela, nos destruímos uns aos outros, sem nos preocupar com os sentimentos de nossas vítimas.

De fato, se a procriação fosse a principal chave da sobrevivência da espécie humana, como explicaríamos a homossexualidade? Fosse assim simples, os genes que determinam predisposição para a homossexualidade já teriam sido extintos na seleção natural, já que a procriação é rara em relacionamentos homo afetivos. A ativação dos “genes gays” ocorre como uma ferramenta de sobrevivência, de acordo com o Dr. James O’Keefe. Quando há um desequilíbrio de gêneros na população, nascem mais gays. Isso ocorre porque, como expliquei anteriormente, nós dependemos de afeto, de relações sociais e conexões para sobreviver. Quanto mais filhos homens uma mãe tem, maiores as chances de o próximo ser gay. O quinto filho homem tem 33% mais chances de ser gay que o primeiro.

Então, quando você diz que as meninas partirão “para a experimentação lésbica por puro desespero”, você está errado. As lésbicas serão lésbicas, as hétero serão hétero. E trans não é moda. Toda essa comunidade LGBT vem de uma ativação genética que a mãe natureza talhou com o maior cuidado para ajudar a nossa espécie. O mesmo gene que determina a homossexualidade também determina maior capacidade para inteligência emocional. O’Keefe explica que, as pessoas que tiram as notas mais altas nos testes de inteligência emocional têm mais de 50% de probabilidade de ser gay. É o gene da empatia.

A homofobia é, portanto, uma afronta à evolução. Isso também vale para o machismo, racismo e todos os tipos de discriminação que indicam um baixo nível de empatia, de consideração pelo bem-estar alheio. O feminismo luta a favor da evolução, das conexões, da empatia, do bem-estar coletivo. E, não se preocupe, nós temos parceiros, maridos, namorados, filhos. Não somos essa figura estereotipada que você pinta em seu artigo.

Agora, vamos combinar, ser darwinista e depois fazer, no mesmo texto, um comentário criacionista é meio contraditório. Também é contraditório dizer que homem é complexo e listar as fantasias sexuais mais cliché da caixa de prazeres. Talvez quem está precisando fazer experimentações sexuais é você, Pondé. Vai lá se descobrir, seja sozinho ou com uma mulher que confie e respeite, e tenta dar uma relaxada. A mudança acontece mesmo, não precisa entrar em pânico. Embarque na evolução que nós não queremos te deixar para trás. Nós só estamos pedindo respeito e igualdade para todos.

E é claro que vamos respeitar seus sentimentos, até mesmo seu temor pelo fim da espécie; mas preciso te lembrar, também, que o ocidente não é mercado de carne, e mulher não é filé para você ir lá catar uma que satisfaça o seu apetite. Até entendo você estar invejando os homens de sociedades menos igualitárias, mas tenho fé em você e a certeza de que você supera isso.

Também vale lembrar que doçura não quer dizer submissão. E submissão é a única característica que você não vai encontrar em mulheres feministas.

Gisela’s Breastfeeding Journey

Gisela breastfeeding Lilly

For a moment that looked like an eternity, Gisela was mute. The voice on the other side of the line didn`t seem to notice her heart racing and her chest turning cold. She was told her midwife had voiced concerns about her daughter and that she was to bring her 10-week-old to the hospital as soon as possible. A million things went through her mind between then and the time she arrived at the hospital at 7pm. Among them, the idea that she had done something wrong, that she was just being stubborn; maybe she should have listened to her family and given little Lilly a bottle. She seemed so healthy, so happy, though. What could be wrong with her except her weight gain not following the standard curves in her red book? Gisela was determined to figure that out as she headed to the hospital.

Hoping for the support and understanding of the staff, Gisela soon felt like she was battling against them. One of the first things she was told as she arrived at the children’s ward was that there wasn’t a bed for her and that she should leave her daughter overnight for observations.

Leave her daughter.

They might as well have asked her to leave her arm for a biopsy.

Because there was no bed for her. Did they expect her to go home and sleep after such amputation? They knew very well Lilly was exclusively breastfed. How could she be separated from her mother for more than a few hours? – Gisela asked herself. It all made no sense. Did they suspect Gisela was neglecting or not offering her daughter proper care? All these ideas came rushing back through Gisela’s mind as she kindly responded:

– Absolutely not!

Followed by a lot of “nos”. Her emphatic response did not stop, however, the doctors who came to check on Lilly to, again, ask Gisela to leave her daughter at the hospital and go home. She wasn’t so kind this time:

– VETE A LA MIERDA! – she’s not sure if her words came out, as her heart must have been blocking her throat.

By the way, I’ll let you Google translate that.

Though the doctors did not speak Spanish, they understood she wouldn’t leave her daughter’s side.

– I either stay with her or I’m taking her home – she said, feeling her blood boil gradually from her chest to the top of her head and tip of her toes.

Though normally patient, Gisela found it hard to sit still and listen to the doctors. Her surly response worked: they decided to run some blood tests and soon discharged Lilly by midnight, as there was nothing wrong with her. Relieved, though slightly traumatized, Gisela took her baby home and resumed her breastfeeding journey. It hadn’t been easy from the start.

 

It all started with her first son, Chris. He’d been born in Spain, by emergency C-section. Though Gisela had always wanted to breastfeed, she soon realised it was harder than she could have imagined.

She had little support. Though nurses assisted her in the first week, as Gisela was in hospital fighting an infection in her scar, she was on her own when she went home. Her partner (British) had to go back to the UK for work and her mother had never breastfed. Chris was losing weight and Gisela’s nipples hurt intensively, to the point she was scared of the baby being brought to her.

She found herself in a really dark place. She loved her son as she had never loved anything before, but she didn’t enjoy nursing him. Chris seemed to always want the breast, it was like he was never satisfied. Tired and in pain, Gisela thought she didn’t want to be with her baby.

Her mother had had enough of it. She went out, bought some formula and gave Chris a bottle. He drank it eagerly, as if he was being fed for the first time. Gisela was told her milk was probably too weak, not enough for her baby. She asked her doctor for a pill to stop her milk supply, and that was the end of her terrible breastfeeding experience.

Her situation only deteriorated after that. Gisela felt like a failure and sunk deep into a postnatal depression. She needed therapy and medication. It took her years to recover.

Six years later – she lived in Blackpool at the time – when she found out she was pregnant again, she was determined to make breastfeeding work. Realizing she might have been able to do it the first time if she’d had appropriate support, Gisela started gathering as much information as she could and preparing in advance. She took prenatal courses, got in touch with as many breastfeeding mothers as she could, joined all the support groups online and took note of all the support meetings in her area. She bought breast pumps and bottles in case she needed them and got herself a Star Buddy.

When Lilly came – also through a C-section, but a lot less problematic than the first – Gisela managed to help her latch on to the breast and things started so smoothly she couldn’t be happier. Her Star Buddy came to the hospital to meet her and introduce her to their system. Gisela was given a contact number to call whenever she needed. The nurses were helpful and always checked to see if breastfeeding was going well. “At first it seemed easy”, says Gisela, “but it wasn’t”.

Just like Chris, Lilly was on the breast all day. Yet, when they went home and the midwife came to check on her, Lilly had lost quite a lot of weight. Gisela was told to keep breastfeeding as usual. Every two days someone would come and check on Lilly. Everything seemed normal, except she was still losing weight. She had been born with more than 4 kg, so she wasn’t tiny, but there was a concern her weight loss wasn’t normal.

To add to the stress, Gisela had sore nipples. “I started to panic, it was Chris all over again”. She bought herself some lanolin cream and carried on; she wasn’t ready to give up. Her Star Buddy visited several times and helped her with the breastfeeding position, giving her plenty of advice on how to handle the situation. A breastfeeding consultant online suggested Gisela took Lilly to the hospital to check for tongue or lip tie, but that wasn’t the case. While in the hospital, “we got assisted during a full feed and I was corrected in how to position her and feed her”, explains Gisela. The pain persisted. Her nipples looked very wounded and would often bleed.

Gisela then found La Leche League. A local member, who was also Spanish, contacted Gisela. “She came in a couple of times”, says Gisela, “again I was given advice and help. And company, which was something I needed the most”.

The pain lasted almost three weeks and then ceased. Gisela was proud of herself for persevering and felt like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. Without the pain, she felt she could overcome any challenges ahead. But Lilly’s weight kept going down until she had lost 11% of her initial weight.

During all this time, Gisela’s family were very concerned and kept telling her to give up and give Lilly some formula. Bombarded with guilt, Gisela found refuge online, talking to other mothers who had gone through the same. She would write all of her concerns down on Facebook support groups and get lots of support. By venting and breastfeeding like there’s no tomorrow, Gisela managed to keep the depression away. “Lilly was my rock”, she explains, “I was always with her”.

By six weeks Lilly finally started gaining weight, but not as fast as she was expected by protocols. After the nightmare hospital visit, Lilly’s weight gain started improving. It was still not ideal, but the midwife and Star Buddy were pleased. “A gain is a gain”, they said. “It was taking long, but we were finally succeeding”, smiles Gisela. Every weight gain was a reason to celebrate.

When Gisela took Lilly to Spain to meet her family, she found out her mum had booked her an appointment with the family’s paediatrician. “I trusted him, so I didn’t mind”. The GP expressed his concerns about Lilly being so light and the slow weight gain. He recommended that she didn’t stop breastfeeding but offer her baby a top up with formula after every feed. Gisela’s mum was pleased with the solution found, but Gisela felt devastated: “I felt like a failure, but I had managed so much against all odds”. She carries on:

“I didn’t want to give her the bottle at first. I was scared she wouldn’t take the breast after. But I thought he wouldn’t lie to me and that at the end of the day her health was at risk and I was not going to chance it”.

She started giving Lilly a supplement of 60ml of formula after a normal feed, but only three times a day, not after every feed as she was told. To her relief, Lilly never stopped wanting her breast and her weight gain stabilized; but Gisela noticed a decreased in her milk supply, so she went on the Facebook group for advice. “I was quite attacked about it, and got told that my doctor was not good for the advice and all”. Some mothers shared they were doing the same thing as her, but others shared assumptions that Spanish doctors weren’t that good. It pushed Gisela away from support groups online.

 

Gisela has been breastfeeding for the last ten months and is very pleased with her daughter. Lilly is happy and healthy, eating all her solids and still enjoying her mother’s breast. In fact, when Gisela comes home from work, Lilly won’t let her do anything before picking her up and giving her a feed. To Gisela, breastfeeding was the hardest thing she has ever done, but it was definitely worth the struggle – it still is, as her breastfeeding journey has not yet ended.

Polarização e política do medo

 

polarizacao-azul-vermelhoHá duas salientes linhas de pensamento hoje no Brasil. Eu as chamarei de A e B, e descrevo as duas abaixo:

 

Linha de pensamento A

Há um plano de ação em processo, com a intensão de implantar o comunismo/socialismo totalitário no Brasil. Para alcançar esse objetivo, os orquestradores desse plano (muito representados por políticos de esquerda), pretendem trazer abaixo todos os valores cristãos, que são a principal barreira impedindo que esse desejo se concretize. Para tal, esse grupo esquerdista é capaz de qualquer coisa, até mesmo corromper crianças através do homossexualismo e a pedofilia. Esse plano se disfarça de uma coisa boa, se manifestando na forma de movimentos por direitos humanos, direitos LGBT, feministas, etc, ganhando assim muitos adeptos. Mal sabem eles que são “massa de manobra” para fins sinistros.

 

Linha de pensamento B

Há um plano de ação em processo, com a intenção de implantar uma nova ditadura no Brasil. Os orquestradores desse plano – representados por políticos de direita em parceria com grandes corporações – contam com o apoio de muitos religiosos, que são facilmente manipulados por pastores (especialmente da igreja evangélica). As pessoas que apoiam esse plano, religiosos ou não, costumam ser racistas, homofóbicas, preconceituosas em geral. Eles acreditam numa forma moderna, mais disfarçada, de escravatura através do trabalho; pois a maioria deles são pessoas com dinheiro, e carregam um grande rancor do pobre.

 

Se você achou a primeira linha de pensamento absurda, é bem provável que a segunda lhe soe plausível. Se o pensamento A faz sentido para você, você deve ter achado o pensamento B completamente insano. Isso é a polarização.

Qual das duas linhas de pensamento está correta? Nenhuma. O motivo pela qual uma delas provavelmente soa plausível para você (e para mim, eu não estou imune a esses processos) pode ser explicado pela heurística.

 

Heurísticas

 

Segundo a Wikipédia, heurística “é um método ou processo criado com o objetivo de encontrar soluções para um problema. É um procedimento simplificador (embora não simplista) que, em face de questões difíceis, envolve a substituição destas por outras de resolução mais fácil a fim de encontrar respostas viáveis, ainda que imperfeitas. Tal procedimento pode ser tanto uma técnica deliberada de resolução de problemas, como uma operação de comportamento automática, intuitiva e inconsciente”.

626381112Nós fazemos isso o tempo todo. O cérebro humano desenvolveu técnicas de solução rápida de problemas, que podem ser muito úteis, mas que muitas vezes causam falhas de julgamento. O exemplo mais clássico é o da heurística da disponibilidade, na qual um julgamento é feito baseado no primeiro pensamento que vem à mente.

O Dr. Jerome Groopman (apud Skeptical’s Dictionary) exemplifica essa heurística com o caso de um médico que diagnosticou vários casos de pneumonia viral no decorrer de algumas semanas. Uma paciente então apresentou sintomas similares, mas não apresentou as características manchas brancas no raio-x do pulmão, típicas de pneumonia viral. O médico a diagnosticou como estando nos estágios iniciais de pneumonia. Ele estava errado. Outro médico apresentou o diagnóstico correto: envenenamento por aspirina. O julgamento do primeiro médico havia sido atrapalhado pela grande disponibilidade de casos com o mesmo diagnóstico.

Nós não compramos um bilhete de loteria pensando nas chances extremamente baixas de recebermos o prêmio, mas nos casos de vencedores que vemos nos jornais e nos comerciais. Essas imagens estão mais disponíveis do que os números concretos da probabilidade, levando muita gente a superestimar suas chances. Assim, também, sempre que os noticiários estampam o rosto de terroristas islâmicos na TV, aumentam os ataques a estrangeiros (principalmente árabes, mas muitas vezes também mexicanos e indianos) nas ruas dos Estados Unidos. As chances de ser morto por um americano branco, por um bebê ou por um cortador de gramas são muito maiores do que por um terrorista mulçumano, mas a heurística da disponibilidade faz com que as pessoas vejam o mulçumano como uma ameaça maior.

Evitar esses erros de julgamento dá trabalho. É preciso ponderar, buscar o máximo possível de informações sobre o assunto, analisar versões com pontos de vista diferentes, etc. O uso das mídias sociais também colabora para intensificar a ocorrência de heurísticas.

As pessoas recebem grandes quantidades de informações através da internet, o que as força a fazer julgamentos ainda mais rapidamente. Além disso, o sistema de mídias sociais como o Facebook, intensifica a disponibilidade cada vez mais radical de um ponto de vista. Quando você clica em um artigo que foi compartilhado por um colega, o Facebook recebe essa informação como uma indicação de interesse por determinado assunto. Baseando-se nessa informação, ele passa a disponibilizar mais links sobre esse assunto, autor, veículo, etc. Então digamos que você clique em um artigo de uma revista de ponto de vista predominantemente de direita. Mais artigos de direita vão aparecer e você vai clicando. Em um determinado momento, todos os links vão apresentar um ponto de vista mais de direita, te deixando sem a opção de visualizar um ponto de vista diferente.

É comum, também, participar de grupos online onde mais pessoas compartilham um ponto de vista. Stuart Sutherland, em “Irrationality” (1992), explica que, quanto mais se convive com pessoas de um mesmo ponto de vista, mais essas pessoas se radicalizam para aquela linha de pensamento. Pessoas com o mesmo ponto de vista, validam e encorajam esse pensamento, e a falta de contra-argumentos – por evitarmos pessoas que pensam diferente – faz com que crenças se intensifiquem cada vez mais. Nós agimos assim por gostarmos de sentir que estamos corretos e receber a aprovação do grupo; encaramos a discordância como uma afronta, uma ofensa.

 

O medo

 

Suzanne Zeedyk explica o sucesso de Hitler através do medo e, acima de tudo, a origem do medo. O cérebro em desenvolvimento possui um sistema FEAR (medo) que funciona como um músculo; quanto mais ele é ativado na infância, mais sensível ele fica. Crianças que sofreram abuso, por exemplo, costumam ter esse sistema muito sensível. É como um alarme automotivo que dispara toda vez que alguém encosta no carro. O menor dos estímulos pode desencadear um ataque de pânico, ansiedade, agressividade, ou qualquer que seja a reação. Isso pode perdurar até a vida adulta. A geração de Alemães que apoiou o nazismo de Hitler, viveram uma infância na qual o “conselho da moda” dado aos pais era de uma criação autoritária dos filhos. Na criação autoritária predomina a disciplina, alcançada através de punições (sejam físicas, castigos ou humilhações) e ameaças. Esse tipo de criação ativa o sistema FEAR do cérebro em desenvolvimento com muita frequência.

Na vida adulta, quando esse sistema continua sensível, há um medo irracional de ameaças externas. Para justificar esse sentimento, essas pessoas criam um inimigo, que pode ser, no caso da Alemanha nazista, os judeus, negros, etc… As pessoas se unem contra esses inimigos em comum, sentem-se parte importante de uma comunidade, sentem-se mais seguras. Onde há medo generalizado, há sempre uma pessoa (ou mais pessoas) disposta a usar isso para alcançar o poder. Hitler não teria sido tão bem-sucedido, e feito o estrago que fez, não fosse o apoio que recebeu das pessoas (lembrando que não foram todos os alemães que apoiaram Hitler; não é preciso que todos, ou mesmo a maioria, apoiem uma pessoa como ele para que ela seja bem-sucedida).

O mesmo acontece hoje em dia. Figuras totalitárias recebem apoio das massas por representarem um sentimento de segurança. Para uma pessoa com o sistema FEAR soando o alarme constantemente, é beneficial sacrificar sua liberdade em nome da segurança.

polarizacao-e-confusao-politica

A polarização é um fenômeno que costuma preceder um momento histórico traumático, guerras civis ou guerras entre países, por exemplo. Em pleno 2016, ela tem acontecido no mundo todo, acelerada pela internet e viabilizada pelo medo. No Brasil, ela se manifesta na forma dos times A e B, que seguem os pensamentos A e B mencionados acima. Não é preciso que você concorde inteiramente com um deles, se identificar em parte é o suficiente para ser acatado por um grupo e se tornar inimigo do outro; aos poucos a sua afinidade com esses ideais deve se intensificar.

Enquanto o time A e o time B brigam entre si, o pequeno grupo de pessoas no poder lutam por elas mesmas; fazendo alianças com quem lhes for conveniente, apoiando o time que lhe for conveniente, promovendo e executando ações que lhes são convenientes, tudo em nome da manutenção do poder. Quando mais intensa a polarização, mais facilidade essas pessoas têm de permanecer e aumentar seu poder, se preocupando somente com as falcatruas e picuinhas entre eles mesmos.

Enquanto a população brigar entre si e enxergar uns aos outros como inimigos, continuaremos em declínio. Quando aceitarmos diferentes opiniões e o constante debate como parte fundamental para a manutenção da democracia, as coisas tendem a fluir. A população mais crítica, unida e reflexiva é mais forte para se defender contra a manipulação de oportunistas em busca de poder.

 

debate1O que fazer?

– Reflita sobre si mesmo, sobre o motivo para suas opiniões e pontos de vista; busque ser mais aberto a novas informações e mais flexível; tente reconhecer os momentos em que seu julgamento foi afetado por heurísticas.

– Se relacione e converse com pessoas que pensam diferente de você. Mesmo que você não concorde com elas, tente entender porque essas pessoas pensam assim e acima de tudo, respeite-as.

– Pratique a empatia com mais frequência; tente sentir o que o outro sente, se colocar em seu lugar e imaginar como é essa realidade. Procure não enxergar outras pessoas como “inimigos”, mas como pessoas que viveram outras e experiências e discordam de você. Tanto ela quanto você podem mudar de ideia um dia e acabar descobrindo que têm muito em comum.

– Debata com pessoas diferentes. A única forma de validar um ponto de vista é tentando provar que ele está errado. Escute argumentos conflitantes e reflita novamente sobre seus conceitos. Você pode manter a mesma opinião, adaptar seu ponto de vista ou mudar de ideia completamente.

– Procure saber mais sobre um assunto antes de expressar sua opinião na internet. Use fontes com pontos de vista opostos para elaborar sua opinião.

– Tente ver o mundo como um espaço para a colaboração e não para conflitos.

 

Observação: eu não me excluo dessa lista. Tenho tentado seguir esses passos (é um processo contínuo) e acabei descobrindo muitas coisas sobre mim mesma, meus preconceitos e vieses, e também tenho aprendido muito sobre pessoas com vidas completamente diferentes da minha. Ainda tenho muito a aprender, mas sinto que a minha vida se tornou muito mais fácil e positiva depois desse choque psicológico e por isso recomendo.

Sobre o mau comportamento

diego2No ano passado, o vídeo de um menino de sete anos – vamos chama-lo de Diego – na cidade costeira de Macaé, no Rio de Janeiro, se tornou viral. No vídeo, o menino vira cadeiras, mesas, joga objetos pela sala, faz uma bagunça danada. Os professores ficam a sua volta, parados, sem saber o que fazer. Uma funcionária, acredita-se que seja a diretora da escola, diz: “Eu quero saber com a orientação educacional, com a assistente social, com a polícia, o que a gente faz com uma criança dessas?”. O vídeo foi compartilhado quase 30 mil vezes, recebendo mais de 23 mil comentários, muitos dos quais são perturbadores.

First comment: "lack of a beating"; second comment: "thank god my parents beat me up as a kid so today I`m not a worthless criminal or a thief, always respected everyone including my parents". Third comment laments that, in Brazil, psychologists and human rights restrain people from providing "proper education" (?) imposing limits to children.

First comment says "beat him up"; the other suggests he`s taken to a prison so the police would "freak him out".

Ainda no vídeo, um dos funcionários (talvez a diretora) instrui os outros a não tocarem na criança e esperarem até que sua mãe chegue na escola. “A gente não pode bater nele, não pode segurar ele”. Não, não pode; mas também não deve (voltarei a falar sobre isso mais para frente). O garoto acabou indo parar no Fantástico, onde os especialistas entrevistados lamentam o fato de professores se sentirem presos e não poderem impor limites em crianças como ele.

O que mais me chateia – além da grotesca exposição dessa criança – é que isso mostra o quão despreparados, não apenas pessoas em geral (incluindo pais e responsáveis), estão educadores, psicólogos e outros profissionais ao lidar com uma criança de comportamento difícil. E isso não é exclusivo do Brasil. No Reino Unido, em 2012, “mais de 40% dos pais admitiram ter punido fisicamente ou batido em uma criança no decorrer de um ano (…) e cerca de 77% gritou com os filhos” (Sunderland, 2016, p.178).

Eu não os culpo. A maioria dos pais aprendeu que se deve “disciplinar” os filhos para que eles se comportem bem. Eu também já pensei da mesma forma, mas eu tenho aprendido muito desde que me tornei mãe e trabalhando com crianças – e eu gosto de compartilhar aquilo que aprendo, então vamos lá. A seguir, explicarei porque crianças se comportam mal e o que fazer a respeito.

 

Pequenos cérebros, grandes emoções

Os seres humanos nascem com o lobo frontal subdesenvolvido. Trata-se da parte do cérebro responsável pelo pensamento claro e intenções. Isso significa que não nascemos com a habilidade de controlar nossas emoções. Nós aprendemos isso através de nossas conexões com os adultos a nossa volta, como familiares, educadores, etc. Dessa forma, o mau comportamento costuma ser resultado de um cérebro imaturo.

frontal lobe

Em contraste com o lobo frontal, desde o nascimento, a parte inferior do cérebro humano está funcionando completamente. Essa região do cérebro

“contém sete forças hormonais enormes – os sistemas emocionais geneticamente arraigados. Há três sistemas de alarme – RAGE (frustração, irritação), FEAR (medo) e PANIC/GRIEF (pânico, perda, angústia da separação) – e três sistemas calmantes, de bem-estar e pro-sociais – CARE (afeto), SEEKING (procurando, desejo, antecipação) and PLAY (brincadeira, alegria, despreocupação) – e, finalmente, LUST (acasalamento). Esses sistemas são como músculos, quanto mais os ativamos, mais eles se tornam parte da personalidade”. (Sunderland, 2016, p.19)

Para uma criança, pequenas coisas como cansaço e fome podem ser motivo para uma crise de mau comportamento. Por causa do lobo frontal desenvolvido, adultos possuem a habilidade de compreender porque estão irritados e ir buscar algo para comer, descansar, caminhar ou qualquer coisa que os faça se sentir melhor. Crianças precisam de um adulto que as ajude a entender e lidar com seus sentimentos. O que parece pouco para um adulto, para uma criança pode ser super estressante.

Quando crises de mau comportamento não são lidados apropriadamente na infância, elas podem continuar ocorrendo na vida adulta. Se você trabalha com atendimento ao cliente, provavelmente já se deparou com um desses adultos.

 

Motivos para o mau comportamento de acordo com Sunderland:

– Fome ou cansaço;

– Alimentação (açúcar, adoçantes e certos aditivos nos alimentos podem afetar o comportamento da criança);

– Cérebro emocional ainda pouco desenvolvido (conforme explicado anteriormente);

– Cérebro pouco estimulado (enquanto adultos podem ligar o rádio ou algo do tipo, crianças podem tentar estimular a si mesmos causando uma situação com seu comportamento);

– Necessidade de reconhecimento (crianças que estejam buscando a atenção de adultos podem usar o comportamento como uma forma de consegui-la);

– Necessidade de estrutura (falta de estrutura, como uma rotina clara);

– Necessidade de ajuda com um grande sentimento (tensão devido a um evento em particular na vida da criança);

– Absorvendo o stress dos pais;

– Parte errada do cérebro da criança sendo constantemente ativada.

O último ponto merece atenção especial, pois nesse caso é preciso que os pais, responsáveis ou educadores mudem sua forma de se relacionar com a criança. Sunderland explica que

“Um dos principais motivos que levam crianças a se comportarem mal é devido à forma como os pais se relacionam à criança, ativando a parte errada do cérebro. Você terá mais dificuldades com os filhos se a criação estiver ativando os sistemas RAGE, FEAR ou PANIC/GRIEF do cérebro inferior. Você terá momentos mais agradáveis se ativar os sistemas CARE, PLAY ou SEEKING”.

Gritar, punir fisicamente e ameaçar a criança com frequência irá superestimular os sistemas RAGE, FEAR e PANIC/GRIEF, tornando a criança mais suscetível a crises de mau comportamento; e não o oposto, como a maioria das pessoas comentando no vídeo do Diego parecem acreditar.

“Da próxima vez que estiver prestes a dar bronca em uma criança (normalmente por causa de um comportamento que você não gostou), pergunte-se se há uma forma mais gentil de se expressar – por trás de todo comportamento há uma necessidade emocional, e não é a necessidade de levar bronca”. (Suzanne Zeedyk)

Há dois tipos de crises de comportamento, a crise aflitiva e a de Pequeno Nero. Ambas devem ser levadas a sério e tratadas apropriadamente, de maneiras diferentes.

 

Crise aflitiva

Use your developed frontal lobe to control your emotions and deal appropriately  with a challenging child.

Use o seu lobo frontal desenvolvido para julgar a situação e lidar com a crise da criança apropriadamente.

“Uma crise aflitiva indica que um ou mais dos sistemas de alarme foi fortemente ativado. Esses sistemas de alarme são RAGE, FEAR e PANIC/GRIEF. Isso resulta no estado de alerta da criança se desequilibrando, com níveis excessivos de componentes do stress fluindo pelo corpo e cérebro”. (Sunderland, 2016, p.184)

Esse tipo de crise pede uma aproximação do adulto, para acalmar a criança. Segurar a criança com carinho, oferecendo palavras calmantes, ajudará a fazê-la se sentir segura novamente. Então, assim que a criança estiver se sentindo mais calma, a melhor coisa a fazer é distraí-la – com uma canção, mostrando algo interessante, etc.

Castigos e punições, isolar a criança em um quarto, ignorar ou não dar atenção a essas crises de comportamento pode ser prejudicial, podendo levar a crises mais longas e mais frequentes.

 

Crises de Pequeno Nero

Essa é bem diferente da crise aflitiva e pede uma resposta diferente. O adulto, nesse caso, deve dar menos atenção à criança. Essa crise reflete o desejo de manipular o adulto – quando a criança quer um doce, por exemplo, e tenta convencer os pais a compra-lo gritando e não cooperando. Se a criança consegue o que quer, ela continuará tendo uma crise toda vez que ouvir “não”.

Não adianta tentar argumentar, negociar ou persuadir a criança durante a crise de Pequeno Nero, pois só estará dando a ela a atenção que ela está pedindo. Não grite com a criança, pois ela irá aprender que esse é um comportamento aceitável.

Normalmente, a criança que está tendo uma crise de Pequeno Nero vai parar ao ser ignorada; ou quando compreender que receberá atenção do adulto quando estiver calma e pedindo algo educadamente. Entretanto, algumas vezes, uma crise de Pequeno Nero pode escalar para uma crise aflitiva. É importante saber distingui-las para que sejam lidadas corretamente. Se a criança muda de um comportamento onde ela dá comandos ou exige algo incessantemente para um estado de dor genuína, a criança precisará de ajuda para lidar com seus sentimentos.

Suzanne Zeedyk nos lembra que “mesmo crises de Pequeno Nero refletem uma criança tendo dificuldades ao lidar com seus próprios desejos; então, carinho sem limites” é sempre a melhor abordagem.

 

No caso de Diego, ele não estava exigindo nada; ele silenciosamente destruía a sala dos professores. Eu diria se tratar de uma crise aflitiva. Ele estava tentando lidar com um sentimento muito forte e não sabia como, resultando no seu comportamento destrutivo.

Pessoalmente, essa é a minha forma de lidar com a situação – apesar de haver outras formas de lidar com ela: eu o levaria (sem machucá-lo de nenhuma maneira) para algum lugar, provavelmente do lado de fora, onde ele não pudesse causar muitos danos ou se machucar. Eu usaria frases calmantes, como: “Está tudo bem; ninguém está bravo com você; não se preocupe; vai ficar tudo bem”. Eu esperaria ele se acalmar e me sentaria ao lado dele, talvez colocando uma mão no seu ombro ou costas (se ele deixar) para oferecer conforto. Eu então conversaria com ele, para tentar descobrir o que causou a crise. Perguntas simples, como: “Como foi o seu dia?” , podem ser bem elucidativas. Talvez houve um desentendimento com um colega, talvez ele sofreu bullying, ou talvez algo esteja acontecendo na casa do garoto. Pode ser que ele não diga nada ou queira falar sobre outra coisa, ou brincar. O importante é que ele agora está mais calmo e pronto para retornar a sua rotina.

É importante lembrar que para lidar com crianças com frequentes crises de comportamento é preciso muita paciência. Crianças precisam de tempo para aprender a lidar com seus sentimentos ou pedir ajuda a um adulto. E que gritar, punir fisicamente, isolar ou humilhar a criança não são métodos eficientes. Diego foi filmado e exposto a milhares de pessoas, muitas das quais expressaram o desejo de puni-lo agressivamente e usaram palavras ofensivas para se referir a ele (trombadinha, marginal, futuro criminoso, diabo, etc). Isso é um abuso (coletivo) verbal e emocional de uma criança; sendo essa uma das principais causas para crianças e adultos se comportarem inadequadamente. Eu espero que Diego esteja bem, mas eu não me surpreenderia se depois disso tudo o seu comportamento não tenha melhorado. Eu espero que um adulto sensato e carinhoso o esteja ajudando a lidar com seus sentimentos.

When children behave badly

diego2Last year, a video of a seven-year-old – I`ll call him Diego – in a coastal town of Rio de Janeiro state called Macae, in Brazil, destroying the teacher`s lounge of his school became viral. In the video, the child knocks down chairs, tables, throws stuff around, makes a huge mess. The teachers stood around him, not knowing what to do. One staff, thought to be the principal, is heard making comments like: “What do we do with a child like this? Call social services, correctional office, the police?”. It was shared nearly 30 thousand times on Facebook, receiving more than 23 thousand comments, much of which were disturbing.

 

First comment says "beat him up"; the other suggests he`s taken to a prison so the police would "freak him out".

First comment says “beat him up”; the other suggests he`s taken to a prison so the police would “freak him out”.

First comment: "lack of a beating"; second comment: "thank god my parents beat me up as a kid so today I`m not a worthless criminal or a thief, always respected everyone including my parents". Third comment laments that, in Brazil, psychologists and human rights restrain people from providing "proper education" (?) imposing limits to children.

First comment: “lack of a beating”; second comment: “thank god my parents beat me up as a kid so today I`m not a worthless criminal or a thief, always respected everyone including my parents”. Third comment laments that, in Brazil, psychologists and human rights restrain people from providing “proper education” (?) imposing limits to children.

In the video, one of the teachers (or maybe the principal), instructs the others not to touch the boy and wait for his mother to come and pick him up. “What can we do? We are not allowed to beat him or restrain him”. No, you are not allowed. But, also, you shouldn`t (I`ll talk about that in a second). The poor boy ended up in the news, and the experts interviewed regret the teachers feel they are not allowed to impose limits to children like him.

What upsets me the most – besides the gross exposure of this child – it`s that it shows how little prepared, not only people in general (including parents and carers), but educators, psychologists and other professionals are to deal with children with challenging behaviour. And this is not exclusive to Brazil. In the UK, in 2012, “more than 40 percent of parents admitted to physically punishing or hitting a child in the past year; (…) and around 77 percent yelled at their children” (Sunderland, 2016, p.178).

I don`t blame them, though. Most parents learned they were supposed to “discipline” their children in order for them to behave. I once thought the same way, but I`ve been learning a lot since I became a parent and by working with children – and I like to share things I learn, so here we go. Here`s why children misbehave and what to do about it.

 

Little brains, strong emotions

Humans are born with an underdeveloped frontal lobe, which is the part of the brain responsible for clear thoughts and intentions. This means we`re not born able to control ourselves, we have to learn it. And they usually learn through their connection with parents and cares – and also other adults around them, such as family members, educators, etc. So most misbehaving is a result of an immature brain.

frontal lobe

In contrast with the frontal lobe, from the moment we are born, our lower brain is fully functional. This area

“contains seven huge hormonal forces – the genetically ingrained emotional systems. There are three alarm systems – RAGE, FEAR and PANIC/GRIEF – and three calm and well-being, or pro-social systems – CARE, SEEKING, and PLAY – and, finally, LUST. These systems are like muscles. The more we activate one of them, the more it becomes part of the personality”. (Sunderland, 2016, p.19)

For a child, little things like hunger or tiredness can be a reason for a tantrum, or an outburst of misbehaviour. Adults are more able to understand why they are irritated and go get some food, rest, take a walk or whatever they know will help them feel better. Children need an adult to help them cope with their feelings. What seems like a small thing for an adult can be overwhelming for a child.

When tantrums and misbehaviour are not appropriately addressed in childhood, they might continue later on in adult life. If you work in customer service, you probably know what I`m talking about.

 

Reasons for misbehaviour according to Sunderland (2016):

  • Hunger and fatigue;
  • Food (sugar, sweeteners and a number of additives can affect children`s brains);
  • Undeveloped emotional brain (as previously explained);
  • Understimulation of the brain (while an adult might turn the radio on, children might stimulate their own brains by causing a situation);
  • Recognition hunger (children might be seeking adult attention and realises a tantrum gets a reaction);
  • Need for structure (a lack of structure, like a clear routine);
  • Needing help with a big feeling (tension due to a particular event in the child`s life)
  • Picking up on parent`s stress;
  • Wrong part of the child`s brain being activated.

This last one deserves especial attention, because it requires parents, cares and educators to change their approach. Sunderland explains that

“One of the main reasons why children behave badly is because the way a parent is relating to a child is activating the wrong part of the brain. You will have an awful time with your child if your parenting activates her lower brain RAGE, FEAR, or PANIC/GRIEF systems. You can have a delightful time if you activate her lower brain CARE (attachment), PLAY or SEEKING systems”.

Frequent yelling, physical punishment and threats will overstimulate the RAGE, FEAR, or PANIC/GRIEF systems, making the child more susceptible to bad behaviour and tantrums, and not the opposite as most people commenting on Diego`s video seem to believe.

“Next time you find yourself about to speak sharply to a child (usually for some bit of behavior you didn’t like) ask yourself if there is a gentler way you could convey your thoughts – because underneath all behavior is an emotional need, and it isn’t a need to be told off.” (Suzanne Zeedyk)

There are two types of tantrums, the distress ones and the Little Nero tantrums. They need to be taken seriously and require different responses.

 

Distress tantrums

“A distress tantrum means that one or more of the three alarm systems has been very strongly activated. These alarm systems are RAGE, FEAR and PANIC/GRIEF. As a result, your child`s arousal system will be way out of balance, with excessively high levels of stress chemicals searing through his body and brain”. (Sunderland, 2016, p.184)

These type of tantrums require the adult to get closer to the child, soothe her. Holding the child tenderly, offering calming words, will help her feel safe again. Then, once the child has calmed down, the best thing to do is to distract her – with a song, showing something interesting, etc.

Use your developed frontal lobe to control your emotions and deal appropriately with a challenging child.

Use your developed frontal lobe to control your emotions and deal appropriately with a challenging child.

Time-out techniques, putting a child in a room by herself or ignoring or disregarding this kind of tantrum can be harmful, possibly leading to longer, more frequent tantrums.

 

Little Nero tantrums

This is very different from the distress tantrums and requires the adult to react the opposite way, giving less attention to the child. This tantrum is about the desire to manipulate the adult – when a child wants sweets, for example, and tries to convince her parents to buy them by screaming and not cooperating. If the child gets what she wants, then she`s going to keep on doing it every time you say “no”.

There`s no point trying to argue, negotiate, reason or persuade the child, as that would grant her the attention she`s after. Also, don`t yell, as the child will learn this is acceptable.

Normally the child having a Little Nero tantrum will stop once ignored. Although, some children might move from a Little Nero tantrum to a distress tantrum. It`s important to distinguish them so they can be addressed correctly. If a child goes from nagging or giving you commands to a state of genuine pain, the child will then need help dealing with her feelings.

Suzanne Zeedyk reminds us, though, that “even Little Nero tantrums are still a child struggling with desire; so kindness without boundaries” is always the best approach.

 

When it comes to Diego, as he wasn`t demanding anything, he was quietly wrecking the room, I`d say he was having a distress tantrum. He was having to deal with really strong feeling and didn`t know how to, which resulted in the bad behaviour.

This is my personal approach to a situation like this, what I would do – though there are other ways of dealing with the situation: I`d take him (making sure I`m not hurting him in any way) somewhere, probably outside, where he can`t do much damage to property or himself. I`d use calming words such as “it`s ok; nobody is mad at you; you are ok; it will get better”, etc. I`ll wait for him to calm down and sit next to him if he lets me, maybe put my hand on his shoulder or back for reassurance. Then I`d talk to him and try to understand what triggered the tantrum. Simple questions like “how was your day” can lead to very elucidating answers on what could have winded up the child. Maybe there was a misunderstanding with other children, maybe he was bullied, maybe something is going on at home. He might not talk to me this time, or might prefer to talk about something else, or play a game. What matters it`s that the child calmed down and is now able to return to his routine.

It`s important to remember that dealing with children who often behave badly requires a lot of patience. It takes time for them to learn how to ask an adult for help and cope with their feelings. And that yelling, physical punishment, isolation and humiliation are not effective. Diego was filmed and exposed to thousands of people, many of them expressed the desire to physically punish him, and many others used unkind words to refer to him (calling him a future criminal, devil, rascal, etc). That`s collective verbal and emotional abuse of a child; one of the main causes for children and young adults to behave badly. I hope Diego is ok, but I wouldn`t be surprised if his behaviour hasn`t improved. I hope a sensible, caring adult is helping him deal with his feelings.

What my vegan baby eats

Healthy vegan baby

Healthy vegan baby

Raising a vegan child isn`t always easy. Not because of the food options, but because of people`s misunderstanding of what veganism is. I have been accused of depriving my child from his basic nutrition; loving animals more than my son; putting him at risk of malnutrition and anaemia; and a number of other less dramatic wrong-doing. Most of the time, when people find out about our diet, they fill me with questions and I can`t blame them; there is a lack of information and abundant misconception on the subject. So I try to take all the questions seriously and always answer them as well as I can, but there is so much to say it`s hard to squeeze it all in a few minutes of conversation before people get bored of the subject and start talking about how delicious steak is. So for those who are truly interested – and for my sake – I decided to write about the main questions I normally hear, one post at a time.

Probably the most frequent question I hear is: “What do you eat”?

First of all, I need to clarify something: we do eat. We don`t eat less than other people – if anything we eat more – and we don`t hate food, we`re not fussy (most of us, at least), and we are not just trying to lose weight (again, most of us). Also, veganism doesn`t have a standard menu we`re supposed to follow. It simply means we do not consume any animal products. That`s it. There are infinite ways of being vegan, including healthy and unhealthy ones. So it can be absolutely suitable for babies from weaning – or from birth in the case of formula-fed babies.

Now this is my son`s case:

My son was exclusively breastfed for over five months. Just before he turned six months, he seemed ready to start eating solids, so I gave him pureed butternut squash. He loved it. He also seemed very interested in feeding himself so I did a mix of baby-led weaning and pureed food – sometimes he would only eat if I fed him with a spoon, go figure. I kept breastfeeding on demand but would always try to give him food first so he would depend less and less on the breast.

For the baby-led part of his weaning I gave him pieces of fruit and veggies, such as cucumber, apple, banana, peaches, oranges, cooked potato and carrots, pasta (I recommend penne over spaghetti, way less messy) with tomato sauce and bits of veggies, things like that. Some of the fruit he wouldn`t eat whole, he would eat in a puree, like strawberries, so I blended some fruit together to feed him with a spoon. I also prepared porridge the American way, mixing oats and boiled water. I add pieces of fruit, mashed banana or purees to it for flavour – he loves it.

After a few months he was eating pretty much the same as me. This is how I plan our meals:

I have a whole-food, plant-based diet that`s also starch based. That means I don`t eat any animal products such as meat, dairy or eggs. It also means I cook from scratch, from real food, trying to avoid processed food (especially white flour, white bread, white anything) as much as I can. To be fair, I do buy some baby snacks for those occasions I don`t have time to prepare anything and need to be out with my son during most of the day. Most of our meals, though, are real food. To base your diet on starch means a big part of my meals is starchy food. So for every meal I either have a generous portion of grains (mostly rice and beans, because I`m Brazilian and this is culturally what we add to anything we eat), whole grain pasta or starchy root vegetables, like potatoes. The starchy bit is our main source of calories. Then I add veggies we like, trying to vary as much as possible so we get all the vitamins, minerals and amino-acids we need. My son eats about five times a day: breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack and dinner.

These are some examples of typical meals:

1 – For lunch or dinner: Rice (preferably brown), black beans, roasted potato + carrots + parsnips, steamed broccoli and cucumber salad. Fruit for dessert.

2 – For lunch or dinner: Lasagne (whole grain sheets) made with tomato sauce, mushroom, aubergine, onions, leeks, carrots and courgettes. Vegan cake (with whole flour and brown sugar) for dessert.

3 – For lunch or dinner: Rice (preferably brown), potato curry with bell peppers and onions, lettuce and tomato salad. Vegan flapjack for dessert.

4 – For breakfast: oatmeal with fruits.

5 – For snack: fruit, rice cakes, chopped veggies, etc…

 

I know what you`re thinking: “How about the protein”? Believe it or not, there`s plenty of protein in these meals I just mentioned. All plants have protein and me and my son are doing very well. He is 15 months old now and he is still gaining weight nicely, is very active and energetic, very smart and growing up fast, as any other healthy child. My last blood tests came out great and I don`t take any supplements, neither does my son (Though I keep an eye out for vitamin B12 and D, I`ll write more about it on another post).

If you are interested and want to know more about the subject, I recommend the following books, videos and websites:

 

Books:

The China Study

Whole

Swallow This

 

Documentaries:

Cowspiracy

Forks Over Knives

 

Videos:

Starch Solution

101 Reasons to Go Vegan

 

Websites:

Vegan Society

Nutrition Facts

Hempmeds se apropria do nome de outras marcas

No dia 18 de novembro de 2015, a empresa Hempmeds registrou o nome da marca Revivid no Brasil. A empresa americana Revivid é a principal concorrente da Hempmeds no País, já que também fabrica óleo rico em CBD e possui uma vasta clientela no Brasil.

O registro foi feito pelo Instituto Nacional de Propriedade Industrial (INPI) e ainda aguarda exame de mérito. Segue um print da descrição dos produtos que a marca representaria:

registro revivid2

O uso da palavra “medicinal” aparece em todos os exemplos de produtos, significando que a Hempmeds precisaria de uma licença de marketing especifica para vender produtos medicamentosos. Para isso, segundo a Anvisa, é preciso haver prova de segurança e eficácia desses produtos, o que normalmente significa estudos clínicos para cada um desses produtos.

Será que a Hempmeds tem mesmo intenção de usar a marca Revivid? Ou simplesmente registrou o nome para a verdadeira Revivid não conseguir usar sua marca no Brasil?

Quando se trata de propriedade intelectual, especialmente uma marca que já tem sido usada há anos em outro local, é fácil provar que a Hempmeds não possui direitos sobre o nome Revivid. No entanto, o processo é custoso e lento no Brasil, necessitando de advogados, tradução de documentos e uma série de inconveniências para a empresa. Nesse meio tempo, é possível que a Hempmeds tenha mais essa vantagem sobre a concorrência, ou até comercialize produtos com o nome Revivid para confundir pacientes que já utilizavam a marca original.

 

registro revividPor outro lado, a justiça determinou que a Hempmeds está proibida de fazer propaganda do seu principal produto, o RSHO, até mesmo em seu site. Conforme eu havia mencionado em outro post, o RSHO não tem registro na Anvisa e a Hempmeds não tem licença para vender medicamentos no Brasil, mas insistia em declarar que seus produtos são medicinais.

Eles resolveram, então, colocar no site brasileiro a mesma declaração feita no site americano, afirmando que: “Estas declarações não foram avaliadas pela FDA e não são destinados a diagnosticar, tratar ou curar qualquer doença”.

 

hempmedsbrsite

A página oficial da Hempmeds no Facebook, entretanto, ainda afirma que a empresa produz e vende medicamentos:

hempmedsfb

Será que a empresa vai começar a se comportar no Brasil, ou vai continuar com essa conduta duvidosa?

Attachment vs Overprotection

overprotectionAfter my latest post on attachment, some of my friends expressed their concern on what would be crossing the line from attachment parenting to overprotection. They said maybe I was too concerned about my son`s emotions and would eventually end up spoiling him. Instead of dismissing my friends` concerns with “I know what I`m doing” – because, in fact, most of the time I don`t – I felt the need to clarify a few things about what it means to use attachment theory to make decisions as a parent. Bear in mind I only learned most of what I know about attachment very recently and I`m still learning about it. However, I am very interested in social psychology and really enjoy reading about it, which is part of the reason why the whole attachment thing made so much sense to me in the first place. Also, I`m a parent, not a scientist, so please don`t think I`m trying to know more than everybody else, I`m just sharing my experiences and what I learned. So here are the main points:

 

What it means to overprotect

 

The prefix “over” invokes a negative connotation, so the term itself suggests you`re crossing the line when it comes to protection. To my understanding, if you are overprotecting you are preventing your child from being independent, exploring and finding their own little adventures; probably because you are too afraid they might get hurt, physically or emotionally. I don`t believe that`s healthy, because the child will end up depending too much on the parent (or whoever is responsible for the child, if you don`t mind me stressing) and won`t learn resilience, which is utterly important for the child`s development.

That`s not what attachment is about. It`s about trying to understand the child`s needs and being there for them when they need you, so they can build their own confidence, learn about the world and let us worry about their safety – and that means making sure they feel safe. That`s where emotions come in; when children feel safe they learn more, build confidence and independence.

 

Parenting formula

 

There`s no such thing. Doubt anyone who claims you can follow certain instructions and it will work out for you and your child, at least most of the time. These claims end up leading parents to force a certain behaviour on their children and when it doesn`t work out they feel as though their children are not normal or that they did something wrong. That`s also not the point of attachment.

Every child is different and every parent is different. What works for some may not work for other people and if that sounds obvious, it`s because it is. It doesn`t mean it`s easy to get. Understanding what your child needs can be really hard (To be honest, I never heard anybody say it`s easy) and parents are constantly under pressure from family, friends, neighbours and people everywhere full of conflicting advice that might make them even more confused. It`s especially hard to know who to listen to, and how to listen to your child when you are sleep deprived, stressed and frustrated. I try to avoid judging parents while sharing my opinion and my experiences, but I understand it`s easier to identify what`s wrong rather than what`s better, or what can work. Even when you police yourself some judgement slips, especially on social media where people get braver than they would in a face-to-face conversation.

So even when people say there`s no formula they are quick to point out what`s right or wrong, which means they are following a set of rules. Forget that. Attachment is not about following instructions, it`s about adapting to your child`s needs; which means it`s going to be different for every parent, and every individual child, even siblings.

To illustrate that: if your child cries every time you put him/her down, I`d suggest you put him/her in a sling and go ahead with your routine. It would have worked for my son and it would have made my life easier. The problem is that I have a bad back and couldn`t carry him around. I had to reduce my work load in the house, do stuff when he was asleep or have people take care of him while I cooked and did housework. It wasn`t easy but he eventually grew out of it and didn`t need me so often.

I also planned to breastfeed my son until he was at least 24 months old, but by the time he was one, breastfeeding was making me tired and my nipples hurt as my son sometimes bites them. He eats his food very well so I managed to wean him out of the breast during the day without a lot of fuss. During the night, however, as I mentioned on my previous post, he wasn`t ready for giving up the breast. I`m still breastfeeding during the night, but I`m not tired anymore as it`s way less than when he was feeding on demand.

These are little adaptations considering my son`s needs, but also mine. I am making sacrifices, I`m having to adapt, and that`s ok. And it wasn`t easy to get to these decisions, I struggled to understand these were things I could do, but I got there, not following a set of rules, but connecting with my child. He`s only one, though, I still have a long way to go.

overprotected-pic2

Follow your instincts/intuition

 

Mothers have this reputation of having great intuition, being so connected with their instincts; it`s like they always know what to do, right? I hate this assumption. It makes me feel, when I don`t know what to do, that my motherly radar is broken; my psychic powers worn out. As Stuart Sutherland points out in his book “Irrationality” (it`s mostly on social psychology, but goes way beyond that; I highly recommend it): “Many people find it more hurtful to be accused of having poor intuition than of being slovenly, lazy or selfish”. He also shows us, through a number of social experiments, that more often than not, our intuition is wrong. So when you hear “Just follow your intuition and you`ll be fine”; that`s an irrational advice.

You are not a bad parent for not knowing what to do or for doing something that didn`t really work. Making mistakes and being confused is a big part of being a parent. I used to think I could be in tune with my instincts and my feelings and that would be all I needed as a parent. That was before I became a parent.

Scientific studies can help a lot. Don`t feel overwhelmed by them, there are a lot of people turning them into easy-to-understand articles and books, so we can make sense of them. Again, it doesn`t mean there is a formula. I`m not suggesting scientific parenting is a thing. You still have to make decisions based on your particular situation, but I believe in informed decisions. The more you know, the more confident you are as a parent. And that makes a big difference.

Using the same example as above, about babies who cry every time you put them down. My son was like that and it didn`t feel right to let him cry, but also, I needed to eat and do my own stuff, so my instincts were in conflict here. I didn`t know if I should let him cry a bit and if that would make him learn to be more independent or if I should always comfort him. Then I came across a bunch of studies – which are also mentioned in “Irrationality”, I later found out – showing that the more you leave a baby crying the more they cry. They will cry more often if they don`t feel safe, if you don`t pick them up when they call; they instinctively do it. So I figured there was no point fighting it. I picked my son up when he cried and that worked out for him and for me, as I didn`t have to hear him cry much. That`s also in attachment theory.

And if you think that`s overprotecting or spoiling a child, I must add that there`s no evidence whatsoever that ignoring a crying baby is good for them. You might still dispute me on that, but because scientific data is on my side, I`m confident on my decision, so I won`t feel bad about it. Informed decisions will make you happier, too.

Again, I must stress, it doesn`t mean we`ll always make the same decisions and that we`re acting right or wrong. Knowing the science behind attachment and child development just helps and, as a parent, I`ll use all the help I can get.

 

I ordered a couple of books I`ll link down below. I figured if my life became so much easier once I understood the very basics of attachment theory, then I ought to learn more.

 

 

Books I ordered:

Theories of Attachment

Science of Parenting

 

Books I recommend (they are not on attachment but helped me a lot):

Irrationality

Bad Science