To compare the performance of children with anxiety disorders with that of children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and normal controls in the processing of emotional information. A total of 57 children ages 8 to 11 years (18 anxious, 20 ADHD, 19 normal control) were administered a dichotic listening task for the detection of words and emotions. Comparisons of overall performance, false alarms, and a sensitivity index (which took false alarms into account) were done using repeated measures analyses of variance. Anxious children made fewer false alarms for emotion targets compared to both ADHD children and normal controls, and fewer false alarms for words compared to normal controls. When controlling for false alarms, their performance exceeded that of both ADHD children and normal controls. There were no group differences in correct responses. Performance on a dichotic listening task differentiates anxious, ADHD, and normal children, particularly when listening for emotional targets. Further studies using this task may therefore elucidate differences in the processing of words and emotions between these three groups of children.