The Two Tuba Switch – “How To..” Bookmark – The complete version
A step-by-step social-emotional learning experience for parents and children with social anxiety or shyness in children.
By Steven E. Tobias, Psy.D.
THE SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING EXPERIENCE OF THE STORY:
A. Kids with social anxiety are not alone -
This is the most common type of anxiety. It is important for both parents and children to understand these feelings as ‘‘normal” although some will have it to a greater degree than others. We all feel like Mitch sometimes. It’s important to validate a child’s feelings rather than to deny or minimize them.
In the story, Dad had to sneak to find Tuba-Mitch. He could not simply ask his friends, the tuba players, because “Mitch was shy about being so shy”. If a child understands that his feelings are nornal, he will not be ashamed of them. This is very important initial step. Even adults are not perfect, yet they can be apt musicians.
B. Self-esteem is an important component of shyness in children -
Self-esteem problems can make common shyness in children worse. Shyness can cause self-esteem problems when children think something is wrong with them or when they are prevented from doing things they want to do. Children who are shy may be naturally introspective but if they look within and are self-critical, both their shyness and lack of self-esteem worsen. Children who feel good about themselves are better able to cope with their shyness.
Shy children want to see but are afraid to be seen. Thus, they may feel like an object with eyes who, like Tuba-Mitch, “can’t even cry”. Nobody plays with them “Can anyone play with a book on a shelf?”. They are totally dependent on their parent or on a caring adult ‘to find them’.
C. There are good things about shyness in children -
Shy people tend to be observant and empathetic. They are sensitive, both to their own feelings and the feelings of other people. Being sensitive to people’s feelings is a very positive trait to have.
In addition, much like world explorers, discovering the beautiful inner-world of shy children may be a breath-taking experience. Let them know it!
1. PRACTICE WITH YOUR CHILD:
Spin the switchairoo in front of Dad Doll. When it stops, observe who points towards Dad - Mitch (although he is the shy child in our story, in this case he is symbolizing a child who is not shy) or Chair-Mitch (the shy one). Then discuss the following topics while role-playing as Mitch or Chair-Mitch:
a. The child’s thoughts concerning shyness: help him or her understand that it is okay to feel shy.
b. Other common emotions, such as anger, frustration, jealousy or disappointment.
Discuss your emotions in situations where you faced difficulties and times when you felt shy and how you dealt with it. Modeling this for your child will help him/her cope with these feelings.
3. USE TUBA MITCH FOR RELAXATION:
Hold the tuba upside down and place the bottom-hole in front of your nose and mouth. Practice taking deep, calming breaths with your child. Inhale slowly through your nose, hold briefly, exhale your mouth and repeat as necessary. Do this with your children and practice often, especially when not upset, so they will be able to use it when they really need it.