Anxious children:

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Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

How can a child have anxiety attacks?

-from Nervous Nelly

Dear Nervous;

Anxiety is the result of fear or conflict. I will assume normal development ie: no overt family dysfunction or trauma or drug abuse as those are obvious causes of anxiety and panic in kids. So, why would a well nurtured child in a stable and healthy environment develop anxiety or panic? They either have a real good imagination and are bright thus creating allot of misinformation and assumptions (so they are essentially scared of themselves)… or they are somewhat out of sync with other kids their own age due to their brain being formatted more than averagely different than the average kid. This could mean adhd, learning disorders (verbal or nonverbal,) or they have a lean toward left or right brain thinking more than the other kids. Left brain lean would make them very literal and they would always misconstrue others intent. This can lead into frustration, paranoia or at least anxiety when dealing with other people. Or, what I commonly see is a right brain lean where you have a very socially aware child. There was a study that recently came out that linked compassion with high risk for mental illness. They had some ridiculous explanation as to why this might be so when it’s really obvious. Buddhism has known this for five thousand years; Attachments are the basis of suffering. If you have a heightened awareness of others, you feel their suffering as your own. You do too much, indulge others too much, worry too much. You try to control things you should not or cannot, you feel guilt and personally responsible for others peoples pain. You set yourself up to be vulnerable to other people’s manipulations of you because you are overly aware of how other people might be seeing you, and you really care if people like you. Right brained kids are very vulnerable to their peers and this is a major cause of school avoidance or panic attacks in school.

By the way that’s why SSRI antidepressants work so well to treat anxiety and panic that is related to excessive social awareness: they alter the balance between one’s sense of self and one’s sense of others. This creates a more functional sense of empathy.

-Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dear Dr. Brilliant Cliché,

Besides medication what can I do to help my child with their anxiety?

-Nervous Nelly

Dear Nervous;

Enroll them in martial arts. I recommend Kenpo.


It will teach them a sense of personal space and awareness of boundary between self and others. Having this sense changes everything:

(From the net: this addresses physical but all applies to psychological as well)

Many people are scared away from certain sports, especially contact sports, such as boxing or kickboxing, and generally it is because they have been made to take too many risks too soon. As a result, they feel inadequate, lost, their fears mounting as they feel they are not in control — and eventually they quit. The solution to this is a process known in sports as “enhancing the safety zone.”

When a trainer uses this process gradually and professionally, the situation doesn’t seem threatening. When dealing with personal risk the martial artist should always be in control of the elements of the activity, for only then can they overcome any fears they may have.

Kenpo practitioners use an imaginary clock inscribed on the floor and stand at its center. This rule instructs one to move out of the center of the clock. The center is where the attacker(s) see you and expect you to be. Simply by moving, something positive has been accomplished. However, there are certain environments where one cannot even move from the center. Kenpo teaches responses for those situations also. Understanding and internalizing the clock principle of movement is absolutely critical for self defense. By placing oneself or one’s attackers in the center of the clock and then analyzing the angles, answers too many self defense situations are revealed.

-Dr. Brilliant Cliché

The Granny Dr.

I personally recommend Aikido. It is one of the most modern forms of martial arts and its central intent is to neutralize rather than confront negative energy. It can be particularly useful for people who have psychological conflict because it is non-aggressive and teaches students how to neutralize psychological situations as well as physical attacks.


About Dr. Brilliant Cliché

Dr. Brilliant Cliché and the Granny Dr. are a fictional web presence and advice blog. Together we offer a joint perspective that is deep but not academic, entertaining but not fluff, and educated yet street smart. By joining the internet community we hope to share thoughts and stimulate insightful conversation around pressing issues that affect us all. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts. (This is not a site for therapy nor does it intend to replace medical or other professional care. ) You can leave comments here or email The Dr. at and don’t forget to like us on facebook. Our facebook page is Dr. Brilliant Cliche
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