Changing year, Changing Life, Changing your hair: How to deal with changes?

New year, New life. But when we talk about Project Kids, new year means different continent.
I land in another continent with Project Kids (know how they can support in the Projects section / Kids project)

This time I left Far East Japan and landed in Latin America, more precisely in Colombia.

In the last chronicle I spoke about losses. I have shared one activity for adults and another for children, so that we can all develop emotional skills to deal with loss. Today, taking advantage of the new year and all the resolutions that it involves I focus in change.

Latin America, and in this case Colombia, appears in this project for several reasons.

The first is that the idea is to create an emotional tool KIT for families, enriched with children’s tips, children´s from contexts that required them to improve certain emotional competencies.

The second reason is related to numbers. The Gallup Institute shared a study that shows that this continent has the largest register of pleasurable emotions experienced in everyday life. Colombia is in second place (I dont resist sharing a curiosity about this study, the fact that Afghanistan  has highest rate of laughter given each day – but today we will not go there).

The third and more focused reason is that, besides being on the list of countries with the greatest register of pleasurable emotions, Colombia is also the country with the largest number of internally displaced people in the world due to conflicts. I would say that these facts transform Colombia into a true incubator of change managers.

With a population of 48 million in 2014 the records showed that about 5.4 million people had been forced to leave their homes and change their lives due to conflicts.

The nearly 50 years of instability and violence caused by paramilitaries by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – F.A.R.C. – and the drug cartels were at the bottom of these numbers. If I say that the country’s biggest narco-trafficker, Pablo Escobar, died only in 1993 and the 67th peace agreement between the FARC and the government was only approved in 2016, I can say that this past is still very much present in the Colombian day to day life. And I feel that I only realized this when I met Jose.

José is an 87-year-old hunter and accept the challenge of taking me to the village where I had to interview children. Along our way he told me that he was Pablo Escobar’s private hunter. Whenever Pablo visited that bush José was the one that hunted for his men “although he had his hands with blood, he had a great soul. We need more people with souls, “shared José.

The typical Colombian is the one who is born in Bogotá, takes his parents and moves to La Guajira, spends some years in Guatapé with his wife, of course. He lives and have children in Quibdó, but his current tax address is with Leticía.

Meringue, salsa, religion and family are essential to carry on and to deal with all the life changes.

Without comparison, but with many similarities, we can see how Colombia can add value to Portugal, especially in what concerns to “reinvent”, change, innovate, without breaking with values ​​or tradition.

Portugal, is one of the oldest countries in Europe, with a strong culture of tradition and religious rituals difficult to break through. Strong mentalities, with absolute certainties, conservative and afraid to change. However we are also a significant receptor of migratory populations, from African countries, Brazil, Ukraine and even China. And there are more than five million Portuguese spread around the world. This fact shows us that we should and can develop better change management skills.

In addition, we live in a world that demands a constant reinvention of ourselves, our sources of income, our family models, our strategies, concepts and prejudices. A world where change is the rule and not the exception.

I believe that what Colombia has to show us is essentially its capacity for change, keeping its values ​​of worship untouchable: the Catholic Church, the sense of family and hospitality.

This has shown me that after all, changing, innovating, daring to be different, does not mean loss of identity, a break in values ​​or tradition. On the contrary, innovating, trying to do differently, can bring to a culture a practical dimension, of humanity and empathy for others, more genuine and liberating relationships and less prejudice.

In times, a Portuguese friend told me that every 10 years he changed his profession. He had been a cook, a photographer, and now he was preparing to take the nursing course. In fact these life paths are not common in Portugal and can even be judged as something “without direction”, “without career”. Social pressure can be of such a heavy order that they are even discouraged.

As soon as I arrived in Bogotá I met many people living their sixth / seventh life.

I admit that I always had a great admiration for those who are able to use change to grow and develop as Human Beings.

Mama Gloria, 58, Colombian, with a brilliant look and easy laughter, after a disastrous marriage (but who gave her 4 beautiful children) decided to ask for a divorce, to leave Bogotá and to be based in Guatapé. From his home he made a small local lodging. He told me that after years of solitude and isolation in marriage, he longed to know the world, to know how to live differently. Since he was terrified of flying, the best way would be to have the world come to his house.
In fact, in an accommodation with only 8 beds, sometimes it had 8 different nationalities. He told me that he had not felt so well in a long time, that it had been the most drastic change of his life, a change that had brought him more resistance and fear, but to what more self-realization and honesty he had achieved.

Sónia, a 47-year-old music teacher, also marked me for her change. She was the seventh wife of a family of 8 sisters born in a village near Putumayo. The region of Putumayo is one of the regions that still suffers from insecurity due to narco-traffic. About 2 years ago, Sonia, decided to leave Mocoa and to be based in the middle of the mountain of Sierra Nevada, in a land of 1 hectare inherited by its daughter. Sonia has always believed that life can be of more personal and spiritual growth, but for this it has to be done in community with others.

So he decided to build a small hut (bamboo and plastic) on the ground and start planting coffee. Even without having a true agricultural knowledge, he decides to make his small house available to travelers interested in collaborating with the new coffee production. I know that in 2 years, Sónia has a cabin with more than 10 hammocks to sleep in and is often crowded. Volunteers help her take care of her coffee. During the days I was there interviewing children, I had the privilege to start the morning with the best coffee in the world. The coffee of the Estancia Madre Terra was made by one of the women with one of the most accomplished smiles I have ever known, that of Sonia.

All changes begin with an “urgency,” an urgent need to change. They all carry with them emotions, some pleasurable others difficult.

While pleasures are usually well accepted, the difficult ones are tended to be rejected. Because of this, changes bring so many challenges to those who live them.

Therefore, because we are men of habits and comfort, I decided to include this dimension in the interviews with children.

What have you learned from a change you had in your life?

The 7-year-old Japanese, like her 6-year-old cousin, said it was really important to help other people that when we do, we stop thinking about our problem and feel better about the changes. Shizuku (5 years old) argued against saying that helping others helped, but asking for help from an adult could also be a good idea.

Marta and Diogo, Portuguese brothers aged 5 and 7, both said that it was best not to be alone. Play with the cousins. They said that with the divorce of the Parents began to stay in the house of the cousins ​​and today it seems that instead of two brothers, they are 5.

In Colombia, Javier, 6, shared that in these moments he is very angry, but usually prays, and realizes that God hears when he stops being angry, he can stop crying and start solving things.

Simona, 9, told me that it cost her a lot when she lost her journal, but one thing she learned from this change was that she had an opportunity to renew it and create a new way of registering her things.

The only five-year-old Julia advises her to stop drinking so much coffee and to start drinking tea. It costs less and it’s easier to stop crying.

Guga, 7, said the best thing to let us be afraid when things change is to have a dog. “When I was without my grandmother every day I would go to the garden, play with my dog ​​until I got used to the idea that he would not come back.”

Usually when one puts the hypothesis that a change is approaching, apprehension, anxiety, or fear, are the first emotions to emerge. Faced with change, there is a tendency to resist in order to try to preserve the old patterns, forms of thought and action. If it is a new condition, it may require new strategies. During a period (and this varies from person to person) the tendency will be to negotiate, that is, I try to use my old strategies, I see if they work, I try to readjust them, and I feel bad about the readjustment I have to make an adult always feels that he must know how to do everything, and this type of flexibility is often felt as a test of his performance and therefore it is a stadium with many emotions such as fear, low self-esteem, feeling of “not being good enough” , doubts and insecurities regarding the future). After this moment we enter into an acceptance phase “okay, this is different, but it does not have to be worse” and soon afterwards there is usually a creative exploration phase, where one begins to try to do things differently, without this bring difficult emotions. On the contrary, it often brings a feeling of “This can even be fun”, “I am capable” until the change eventually sets in.

Here is a playful activity that we can do at home and that can help develop some skills.

Activity “A recipe book for the changes”

In this activity you will create a cookbook to deal with changes.
You must have a book with blank sheets. Drawing material and collages
The idea is that the family identifies moments of change, situations that the family has passed and have demanded change. Then, each one must identify personal situations where they felt a change, or that they had to change. Everyone must identify at least 1 situation.

After a list of changes, everyone should write and illustrate at least one recipe for emotional management:

A Recipe able to soothe the heart and help you feel better with this change.
A recipe able to calm the thoughts that came with the change, help you have quiet thoughts, without worries.
A recipe that can reduce the physical reactions we normally feel with the changes, The knots in the belly or the malaise that you feel in the body, and that can help you sleep well every night.

Good changes for 2018


After the Fires? Learning to deal with Loss since childhood

I was bewildered. But, by the way I never understood very well why is it so common to hear “I lost my north” whenever someone feels lost. I think that this reflection did not begin with what happened to me in southern Japan, it came from the time I lived in the southern hemisphere in Brazil. There, I often felt that this expression was somehow a way of prejudiced and misleading in relation to the south. Why would only the North give meaning to things, to our life? Why were not we accustomed to say “I found my South?”

Anyway, philosophies aside I was on the island of Southeast Japan in Kyushu, when I got sick.

Lately in “Project Kids” I talked about the importance of dreams to children. I already gone through tolerance, social harmony or empathy, and today I will focus in loss. Soon I will go to Colombia, where I will interview even indigenous children (you can follow all details in

I decided to visit Southern Japan at last minute. There were many many reasons to visit this region, from the natural beauty, to surf, the active volcanoes like Kagushima, or the sacred spots where Japanese history started. Chintoists Gods of the Sun, islands populated by ghosts, ancient seaports, cities full of natural stream baths, like Beppu, or even the largest sacred waterfalls in Takachi-ho where I fell ill.

It is also the place where there were bloody wars, like the samurai one. I suspect that unconsciously, this was the biggest reason that took me to the South. I couldn’t leave Japan without finding some Samorai descent children.

I had just arrived from a Za Zen retreat (where I learned to practice meditation and followed the rituals of the Japanese monks who lived there for more than two decades). Before I left Beppu, where the only rule was to try all the natural hot springs baths for 2 days. That’s why I felt invigorated for many more interviews with children.

Takachi-ho was the only village where I had no contact and I also knew that it would be difficult to find English speakers. Characterized by being a remote and sacred place, its legend also made it unmissable.  The legend happed in a cave near the big cascades of this village, where the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, brought light to the darkness world.

According to the legend, Amaterasu was angry with the bad behavior of her brother, and for this reason she decided to hide in a cave (now considered sacred), taking the light and leaving the world in the dark. Alarmed with the latest happenings, the other Gods gathered to decide what to do to illuminate everything again. Until one of the gods, Ame-in-Uzume, decided to dance to Amaterasu, leaving her surrendered and, above all, curious. Motivating her to leave the basement. At this moment, she not only left, but returned the light to the world.

This is exactly how I felt when I became ill in Takachi-ho. Unable to move, in a remote family house, about 5 kms from the small village. In the darkness, hoping that some Ame-no-Uzume could help me to explain to the responsible of the house (Non English speaker) that I needed a doctor.

Three days later, without a doctor or Ame-no-Uzume, I was able to regain some strength to catch the famous 15-hour Shinkazen that would take me to Tokyo airport.

I have a belief that in Europe we are not used to be seriously ill, and if we talk about losing the north, we usually talk about losing things, money, friends or people, and we never include disease or trust in this topic. Perhaps in the southern hemisphere, when we speak about losses, disease arises as one of the most important things that can loose… perhaps…

If we look to Portugal in the last month of October, we losted more than 50,000 hectares of forest due to fires, more than 108 mortal victims and hundreds of displaced people.We even lost more than 80% of Pinhal D’el Rei and only in Tocha we had more than 25 thousand euros of dept.

We this calamity I would say that it is urgent for the Portuguese society to learn how to deal with loss, especially in moments like this. Its urgent to understand what can happen when we lose something, how we process this losses, what we may feel, and what we can do to recover from what seems irretrievable.

On the top of all this, we should teach our children, future generations, to do the same, so they are able to create their emotional savings.

Losing is a part of life as well as winning. And this is why I’ve included a few questions about loss in the interviews i´m doing to children around the world.

I ask if they have lost something and I also ask them some prescription on how to deal with the loss.

I believed that Sierra Leonean children were the real loss specialists, given the generations they lived in civil war or the recent outbreak of Ebola in 2015, but as always I was surprised.

Answers like “Wait for it to pass. It always ends up happening “,” Surfing with friends “or” Doing things we like until we feel better “were some of the answers in Sierra Leone.

In Japan prowled “writing a letter makes you feel better”, “lose? Never lost anything … just a trolley … ”

But in Portugal the stories were different: “when we loose things, we can always buy other things … but when we loose people … I know… if I had a molecule of that person I would create her again.”, “I lost my dog, I think if I had a room full of puppies to give me licks, I would feel better again.” “I lost my confidence when I discovered that santa claus did not exist …. but that was when I was 2 years old, of course (child is 9 years old now) I also saw that the socks we put in the chimneys are always too small to be his socks, but then I accepted. Sometimes we have to accept things as they are. ”

When we talk about losses, perhaps because it is a difficult topic, we are hardly aware of what we can lose. I would say that the first step of recovery is to identify what we feel we loose, then identify how I feel about it, and finally, activate strategies to deal with the situation.

Moving from theory to practice.

We can lose 5 important things: People, Objects, Animals, Trust and Health.

Each of these losses refers to different emotions, with different layers. If there are rules when we speak of losses, it is undoubtedly the fact that there are no assumptions about what one should or should not feel. Some of the most common emotions when faced with a loss are: anger, anger, anxiety, fear, calmness, contentment, sadness, acceptance, denial.

Here is an activity you can do with the kids at home and an activity for adults.

For children from 6 to 10 years old (also for older children, but not for younger ones).

  1. Illustrate the story of what I lost:

Together you and the child should fill the following story:

1.1 When I lost …

1.2 I was sad because …

1.3 I remember that …

1.4 I was happy when …

1.5 I felt sad when …

1.6 One funny thing I remember right now is …

1.7 What other people told me at the time was …

1.8 What made me feel better at the time was …

After filling in the history of loss, you can illustrate, with cutouts, drawings and collages.

2.For Adults:

During the 3 months following a major loss, there is often a deal of emotional instability. However, there are a number of exercises that can be done that can calm those emotions. And like all the adults who have suffered the impact of the country’s fire losses deserve a special treat, here is an exercise that, over these 3 months, can help transform some of the difficult emotions that are experienced at this stage.

Here goes:

Imagine you were given the opportunity to create the ideal village / town / village. A place that could give you more quality of life in several levels.

Answer the instructions:

  1. Services: What kind of services would you like your new locality to have?
  2. Places with nature. How did you like them to be? Near or far from your home? Affordable, green or wet? Just a lake, or a beach?
  3. Transport. Would you like to ride your bike, your car, your horse, or just walk? Would it be a place with easy access or difficult?
  4. Now imagine the relationship between neighbors. How would you like people who lived closer to you to relate? Would there be a community association? Just occasional grocery shopping with shy greetings?
  5. And children: A place with many or few children?
  6. The services. Were there many services, few? What kind of services? Just the essentials more than that? Would you like to provide some service in your community?

Healing of difficult emotions is possible and this is an activity that may fit you.



Zero Tolerance or Divine one, mixed or evan foody tolerance. The important is to be tolerant

I was heavear. With a full heart. Maybe because I woke up that morning hearing the heart mantra, maybe because I was finally able to catch a beetle before moving on to Kyoto. The last article was about generosity and I shared an activity that can be done with children from 5 -10 years old. Today I travel to Kyoto and the importance of tolerance. Kyoto, evan naming a stringent gas control protocol, is a very relaxed city. Her story required to be a city essentially tolerant. Tolerant to changes, to differences, to tourists and lifestyles. It began by being the capital of the empire, later Tokyo stoled her place. That´s why today they call it “Old Capital” and (although for me, Kyoto is more futuristic than ancient) the streets of Machyas – traditional houses before World War II – leave no doubt of its ancient wisdom. The city center is ordered according to Feng Shui, but the peripheral areas do not maintain the same standard, as if from the outset, Kyoto distinguished itself by its rebellion against the lines of traditional cities. Undoubtedly, when we travel we experience changes at various levels. In Japan, my biggest journey is on prejudices. And it was through art that I confronted myself with tolerance and with my Western prejudices. It was still in Tokyo, in the Manga and Animation stores of Akiabara, like the stores of Sonic, Dragon ball or Jay World where i felt again the adrenaline that only the fantastic world can give us. And that we stop using as we grow. These shops, contrary to what one would expect in the West are above all for Adults. It is through the animations of Manga that Japanese apreciate literature. The Books of Tankôbon occupy many shelves of bookstores, and Miyazaki with its Totoro movies is often sold out in cinema. It´s with a lot of color, fantasy and joke that they talk about adult issues approaching themes like science, romance that makes you cry or even ethical dilemmas or life philosophies.

It is inevitable to compare adult Japanese society with Portuguese one. And i wonder when did we learn that having leisure time, humor and flexibility (also in the physical level), was children´s issues and would compromise responsibilities of grown up people. Why being an adult seems to require a serious, heavy, bullying, and undoubtedly “knowing everything about everything” posture?

The art in Kyoto also led me to think about the womens role in general. In the streets of Kyoto there are still Geishas, ​​many Geishas. And if there is something they are not, it is the equivalent of the prostitutes of the West, as the bad western languages ​​say. Geisha is woman passionate about art: an excellent student of Japanese art, song and dance. Distinguished at a distance, by her costume, delicacy and status, the Geisha is someone who knows much about the culture of her country, an artisan. Often the Japanese themselves use their services, for that reason, to know more about their cultural roots. Being a Geisha is a life option that should be made early, when the young woman (around the age of 17) decide to join the Geisha school, and for that, she should have a savings account to pay for the school fees, the meetings with older Geishas, ​​and buy her first kimono. All this In order to be able to dedicate her self to the entertainment life. Some geishas even earn up to 5000euros / apparition. But this is just one way of life.

Another way of life is the familly path. The Japanese women who go through family life. And unlike Western stereotypes, the woman who decides to devote herself to a family project is not submissive or self-reliant. In fact, the figures show that about 64% of Japanese women work, even on a part-time basis. Modesty and her self-sufficiency are something highly valued in this culture. Self-reliance, because the “Needy” woman is seen as a burden to others. Modesty and description will help to have a better sense of opportunity in relationship with others.



The family woman is someone who has enormous family and social power. The “koiko mama” – the mother who is responsible for the family budget, for ensuring that everyone is well and yet, that children perform well in school – is what they are commonly called. Besides that is someone who should contribute to the community life the neighborhood and therefore, volunteer for such. As Marta, a Portuguese friend married to a Japanese monk told me, “Perhaps here the great difference between the Japanese housewife and the Portuguese Housekeeper is the fact that there is an almost official and very great recognition when the woman makes the choice to be a house wife.

And as I look at the streets of Kyoto, I realize how many tourists women are passing by. I would say its the third big group in the city and undoubtedly, with a huge miscellany of languages, ages, cultures, families, cameras and life choices.

Some take unpaid leave to travel, other change their way of life, other even bring their children to show them the “World” and even those who save money to travel, even if only once a year: “For me, the most important thing is to see the world; change your perspective and feel that there are many ways to live, grow and feel, “said Anne, a 40-year-old traveler.

These realities are just a few that intersect in Kyoto. People who cross daily on city streets, in supermarkets or public transport, and at the end of the day sleep with a clear conscience. If there is anything that Japanese society is not, it is moralistic or judgemental.

Tolerance is a fundamental attitude for those who live in society. A tolerant person accepts opinions or behaviors different from those established by his social environment, without judgments or moralities.

What about Portugal? are we tolerant?

How do we know if someone is different from us? It is the question I ask the children in order to understand what they feel about tolerance and what kind of tips on respect they can give us.

The 8-year-old Diogo replied “It’s by the look. But if they are twins, by the posture”. The five-year-old Daniel said: “because we have different things in the body … but I do not understand much of that part … Then added” But I think we can, show respect, by making agreements. ”

Miguel, 6, said it was for the flavors “Some people like the other and this one may like or dislike the first”.

In Japan, 8-year-old YeChan and 5-year-old ShizukoChan, 6-year-old Yuki and 7-year-old Caiu did not know how to answer this question. Only 7-year-old YuChan told me she should be … like her and her twin sister. Her sister is very good at ballet and she’s just a chopstick expert.

And only 15 interviews later I understood why only Yo had been able to answer “If you ask me what we have in common, it’s easier, but if it’s different … I do not know …” she told me.

Sohei, a painter friend also explained to me, what I now understand as the basis of tolerance: “If I focus in the differences of who is in front of me, i will distance myself from him/her, if on the other hand, I try to identify what we have in common, I finally come to the point that we are human, with the same fears, the same acceptance need , to feel safe, with the same desire to be happy and afraid of not being able to, and because we are the same species, it is worth looking at him/her in an unique way and putting into practice my responsibility to respect that person “.

According to the study  published by Jornal Público in 2016, Portugal was the third country in Europe that was most opposed to welcoming immigrants. Even though we know that about 1.2 million people seek protection in Europe (number higher than in World War II). Even if cultural tolerance is one of the values ​​of Portuguese Democracy.

I admit i was shocked and I also believe that we must be more and more tolerant towards difference, less moralistic in general, and that tolerance, empathy and compassion are the keys to ending wars in the generation of our children.

So I leave you one activity that can promote tolerance in your children.

1. Picking up magazines or old newspapers from home, the child must choose images (parts that constitute a face, nose, mouth …) to cut and build a face. Then they should choose the images they like best and use them to make a mask through collages on a sheet that will serve as portraits.

 2. Do a multi-cultural dinner and serenade: Choose a continent and then a country, decorate the house with elements of that country, make a food that represents it and show the child how to play (eg Asia: mount a TiPi, and to dinner show how you eat with chopsticks, for example). I can also take the opportunity to suggest adult to practice his tolerance at home and to tolerate the “today we eat as we want” day the meal is chosen by the children and the way they eat as well (by hand, at the table without dishes … yes, sorry for the mess! !)

3. As a family, everyone must identify the differente and simillar characteristics of each one and say why each is important to the group.


Man usually cry because of woman and women usually cry because of man

Second article published in the “Visão magazine blog”

Bureh is a very special place.

Not only because it survived the Ebola, “never entered here” or the civil war “warriors were afraid to be trapped” but also because it is one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. The irreverent swell, the sand ravaged by the river and the huge green mountains on the back contributes to its amazing natural glamor.

The people who live here are also unusual. Bongue for having finally begun to pay the installments of his first solar system in the wooden house; Kiki who worked hard to accomplish her dream and today she is the first surfer woman in the country; The French lady of the homestay, who came as a tourist for over 10 years and never managed to leave; And Powerman, who beggin to learn yoga with tourists and finally finished his official training. Now he strongly believes that “many of  the social problems of new generations, like my son, could end up if they would do yoga”.

Surfing and fishing are main activities. And so, apart from the translator, bikinis and sea dives seem to me to be essential to fulfill my purpose (Is it important to have a cultural integration, or not?). Bureh has the first and only community surf camp in the country. Today it is energized by a dozen young Sierra Leoneses, like John or Kiki, who try to inspire the young community by surfing.

I suspected that talking about emotions in a place like this without mention waves, wasnt likely to happen. And it was confirmed when the younger brother of the Maray family (age 5) answered me assertively “Adults cry when there are no waves!” This is one of the questions I ask throughout the four corners of the world. “Why do adults cry?” And automatically refers to empathy. It seems simple, but asking ourselves what will other people feel in different situations, allows us to gain perspective on ourselves, others and the world. To practice empathy.

In Lisbon, 5-year-old Rafael answered me by asking “Do they cry ?! i didnt know…” “Maybe it’s because they’re sad … and then the best thing to do is cry,” added the oldest of the Maray brothers (aged 8).   Mia told me after a few moments of reflection that “it´s because they are human … they also suffer”. Diogo, Pedro (Lisboetas, 8 years old) and Tendza (de Bureh, 7 years old) were certain that it was because they had problems in love, sometimes “women cry because of men and men usually cry because Of women. ” But Tendza was divided and added “it can also be because of friends … that’s it. When they do something bad to them. ” Maria Mackabala, also surprised me with her 8-year-old. She stated that adults cry “because when they grow up, people stop having other people to encourage them, to support them and to accompany them in difficult times.” To this Mackabala told me that it was fundamental “to approach those who are sad and to be together. Encourage that person until it passes. “

 Empathy is the competence that underlies relationships.
It is the ability to put myself in someones shoes, to understand what others may feel in a given situation. It is therefore an essential competence for healthy, more harmonious and, above all, more humane relationships.
It is at the basis of altruism, generosity and socially responsible decision-making. A society without empathy is an inhuman society, as it happens with terrorism, socially anemic and emotionally anemic.
I do not believe that Portugal is included in this definition, but according to the OCD (Organization for Cooperation and Development) report we are the third country in the world with the higest consumption of antidepressants. My worry is that these figures reveal that the great majority of adults in charge of the education of the future generations in Portugal suffers or have already suffered from a deep and prolonged sadness  or depression. What characterizes someone who goes through such a phase, beyond sadness, is their difficulty in having perspective “This will never change” dangerous prespective of the world as “a dangerous place”  or towards the others “they are a threat”. This combination challenges the practice of empathy, of altruism or generosity.
A child who grows up with this depressed adult, will probably lack to receive the foundations of empathy, may become the selfish leader, the cold or emotionally unstable woman, the unimpressive or conflicted person in their relationships, or the selfish husband who makes decisions without never consider the impact it will have in his family.
The good news is that it is a competence, with or without depression, with or without waves, we can practice it in us adults or in the education of our children.
So here are some ideas.
Tip to be a more empathic caregiver when your child does something wrong: Before punishing him, follow the rule of 3 questions:
1. Why did my son do this?
This question allows you to put yourself in his place, and react acording to what he is living. You will also practice your empathy and will make it easier for the child to learn from his example.
2. What lesson do you want to convey? This question helps to define the goal we want. Sometimes it is common to hear “he did wrong, he is punished” without giving a moral of the story.
3. How best can i achieve this?
Helps to identify the best actions / punishments / methods …
Here it goes a recipe to practice empathy: Say (or make cards with) the following situations (you can change as you feel more creative or even adjust the situations to the reality there at home):
“He dropped the Ice Cream,” “Her birthday party is today,” “she has to stay in bed for a few days,” “fell off the bike and broke it,” “She’s been in the car for 3 hours”; “The teacher once warned him to stop the game”, “The cousin gave him a new toy, but the best is always for the brother”, “He really wanted to go, but now he cant”, ” The dog will have to be operated again “,” His dog died “,” he will have na exame tomorrow “,” he will have to ask for help from a stranger “,” Waiting for someone to come and get him, “” he never gets the presents he wants, “” she made a beautiful picture. “
Say (or make) a list of emotions. For example:
Disappointed, excited, happy, sad, jealous, angry, ashamed, confused, proud, worried, grateful, frustrated, afraid
The idea is to tell the situation to the child and to each situation he/she should say what he thinks the character in that situation is feeling.
You can change situations or adjust them to the reality of your child. If they like plastic arts at home, they can also choose pictures from magazines to illustrate situations as they think about it.






Kids: About Sierra Leone and How to introduce emotional Language at Home

It’s official, I landed in Sierra Leone to start another project: The research to create an Emotion Kit for parents with the help of children (from 4 corners of the world). The idea is to go around the childrens world (geograficly and emotionaly) in order to ask them and compile what they feel about adults’ concerns and what they would recommend them as solutions to regulate emotions. Adding to their tips, i will also compile my tips on what we can do to make the emotional language progressively introduced into the education of future generations. If we worry about teaching children to brush their teeth, not talking to strangers or saying “thank you” why we shouldnt teach them early on how to deal with frustration, make socially responsible choices, ask for help when they are afraid, to apologize when they hurt someone?

For this reason i have choosen countries, like Sierra Leone, Japan, sueden, Portugal, Russia, São Tomé and Principe…and this is this what i found in Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone is a very resilient country it has had to reinvent itself over several decades. First with the civil war (between 1991 and 2002), which resulted in the deaths of over 50,000 people and many thousands of refugees in a country with 7 million people. And then, between 2013 and 2015, with the Ebola.

In 1462, Pedro da Sintra, a Portuguese navigator, arrived in the country and gave it the name of Sierra Leone. Some rumors say that the name “Sierra Leone” is due to the fact that this territory, when sighted from the sea have many saws and, moreover, the thundering in the rainy season resembles the roaring of a lioness. Here are known about 16 ethnic groups, each one speaks its dialect. And although the official language is English (the language in which the entire school curriculum is also taught), Krio is what is most heard on the streets of the center and south of the country. Krio´s base is the English, but it gives me great pleasure to hear the expressions “Pikin” (small) or “No Sabi” (I do not know) because it brings me closer to the home.

One of my priorities when landing is to ensure that I have the conditions to start the project: a translator and children from 5 to 10 years old. At the moment I already have children of gangsters in Freetown (in the capital), surfers (in Bureh Beach, and children from the golden mine areas (in Kabala – one of the most remote areas of the country). So im really to proceed.

Here, regardless of the region, age, or marital status, the first question asked is “How Di Bodi?” (How is the body ? in Krio) as a way of greeting who arrives. I loved this question, not only because in fact, if we do not feel good physically, everything else is affected or the other way around, but also by the answers that it originates: “under my clothes” , “bodi fine”,  “Bodi sick … bodi fine..this is Africa” ​​(sick body … good body … this is Africa).

The Interviews always follow the same script and the first question I ask is if the child knows what emotions are. It was with this question that Maray, 10 years old (resident in Kabala) surprised me. Maray began by responding that she knew “more or less” what emotions were. But after the game I do initially, he quickly told me that she had understood. She said it must be what she is feeling in her chest right now. She told me that she was struggling to let her worries pass, because she was preparing for the adult ritual of initiation.

It’s about two weeks with various dances, practices and many other women, that end up with a meeting with a traditional circumciser, a more experienced woman, who will do one-by-one female genital mutilation – FGM. FGM is the removal of part or all of the female external sexual organs – the vaginal lips, the clitoris. It is usually made with a cutting blade, with or without anesthesia. Records of deaths from this practice remain very high, of course. In the EU, records show that 500,000 women are victims or are at risk of this practice. And we are no exception here, there are about 8,000 women in these conditions in Portugal. Eight thousand is also the daily number of girls at risk, which means, read well, at least 300,000 girls per year.

Even though i force my self to withdraw my Western glasses when I changed country, it was impossible not to think about the definition of the World Health Organization: “It is a violation of the human rights of girls and women, it is an extreme violence of discrimination and violence based on sexual gender “.

So I asked her if she was aware about the consequences of this practice, infertility, the impossibility of having any sexual pleasure for the rest of her life and even the life risk. I asked her if she wasnt afraid. And it was at this moment that she replied “Bodi fine. This is my culture … this is Africa … stay quiet because this will pass “(Body is good, this is my culture … this is Africa) Simultaneously she explained to me that this ritual will fulfill the myths in which this practice is based, like the increase of the fertility or the fidelity of the woman.

Concerned that we are still witnessing these realities today, Maray also reinforced me the urgency of fulfilling our responsibility to future generations: to teach them how to identify risky situations, to take responsable decisions (personally and socially),   to provide them the tools to get help and regulate their emotions in order to encrease their well-being. And this, for me, focuses on emotional education.

I recalled from this conversation that emotions are mutable (the same I can not say about FGM, which will leave marks and consequences at various levels for the rest of a woman’s life.)

I checked it in both places, Portugal and Sierra Leone, adults mistakenly assume that children are less able to understand the complexity of the world, even if they have to adapt, react, and develop ideas as quickly as their brain develops and all based on their daily emotional experience.

I have also seen that both Maray’s parents and Portuguese parents rarely spend time introducing emotional education into their family dynamics. What most caregivers do not know is that introducing emotions into children’s education brings another dimension to parenting. The caregiver ceases to be the “super hero” and becomes a Human Being, someone who makes mistakes and recognizes them (apologizing for example, insted of ignoring) someone who values ​​Being and not Doing, that Helps their children to be rational and emotional beings with opinion, able to say “I can not accept this”, “I must fight for that”, “I choose this and not that” and because we are not born taught or came with instruction manual, here are some tips that can help introduce the emotions in education at home:

1. “Give a name”: The greatest frustration of children is to feel that the adult does not understand them, “they should always do everything, without their opinion being taken” for this reason, it is beneficial to transmit the sensation to the child of That we understand their frustrations, their reactions, their sensations. And one way to do it, without much room for error, is to verbalize what is going on, simply repeat what the child is doing, adding a logical reason for what to do. For example, he barks because he does not want to put on his coat: “I know you do not like to put on your coat, but it’s cold and you can get sick”, “I guess it’s frustrating when you do not want to do something that you’re asked for, but it’s important because …. “Another example: the tantrum because it does not want to dinner” I know you do not like to be forced to eat this, but you have to eat to grow … ”

2. Recognize instead of ignoring. Often in the office I have patients in the most fragile phases of their lives, worried that their children will see them crying, tending to hide what is happening. Children are very sensitive and it is important to reinforce this expression, so in this case, it is advisable for the adult to explain what goes on “that is sad…

Please check Visão Magazine Blog for oficial version

If you want to support this Project and the next coutry – Japan in July 2017 – ask how through the email