Tell Me... Is This Normal for a 7-Year-Old Girl?

Updated on June 21, 2011
N.G. asks from Arlington, TX
17 answers

I'm just wondering if any of you Moms have any experience with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in children-
I've got a call into a pediatric psychiatrist who is reviewing my daughter's 'case'. We will hear in a couple of weeks whether or not she is accepted as a patient. However, the wait-list is long, and we won't get an appointment until October even if her case is accepted. In the meantime, we were referred to a child psychologist (who specializes in Anxiety Disorders) who can see her in about four weeks. So, I'm very curious to know if I'm jumping the gun here, or if my daughter truly needs professional intervention.

Does your child have this? What are their symptoms? What kinds of behaviors do they display? I've done lots of research on anxiety disorders in kids, so I don't need the wikipedia definition, I'm looking for personal experiences.

Here are my daughter's symptoms: on a daily basis, her room is very clean and orderly. She gets bent out of shape if someone misplaces something in her room. She monitors the bathroom use. She will stand outside the door if someone is in there, and when they are done she will check the toilet, ask them if they wiped, if they washed their hands, etc. Her little sister (age 4) is a constant target of my daughter's controlling nature- she feels the need to monitor everything she does. She feels the need to monitor food consumption- who has more, who has less, whether everybody got an equal portion. If I restrain her from controlling things (to protect the sensibilities of my youngest) she will cry and become very obviously and physically distressed. She has irrational fears about the weather, about bad things happening. Her anxiety is also correlated with her food obsession- she tends to overeat and crave starches, and it's such a compulsion for her that restricting her diet also causes her obvious distress.

So tell me... is this normal? Do all kids worry about crazy stuff? Am I jumping the gun? I don't want to take my kid to a counselor if I don't need to. I'm just not sure what to do here. Ugh! Being a Mommy is stressful sometimes! And she's only 7!

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So What Happened?

Thank you SO much for your support and validation, Moms. It really helps! Sometimes I feel like a helicopter Mom- between this and the last post I probably sound like one- but the anxiety/food issues with my little girl have been a constant cause of stress in our house for some time, and it definitely can't hurt to seek some help. Thank you!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

To me, (mom of a recent 8 yo boy) it sounds a bit excessive, to ME. I am not a doctor and certainly no expert--just a mom. To me, it sounds like OCD which is an anxiety disorder. The food 'control' worries me b/c I wonder if it could result in an eating disorder.
I DO think that all kids have their "things" that make them unique and those things can be quite different from kid to kid. But I think when those "things" interfere with normal everyday life, then there is the need for some help.

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answers from Boston on

It sounds more like OCD (Obsessive compulsive disorder) symptoms you've described. I've worked with many clients (adults, no children) who have this diagnosis. Many find cognitive behavior therapy and some medications helpful to reduce the symptoms, although I personally would stay clear of psychotropic meds with children, unless absolutely necessary.
Good luck.

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answers from Chicago on

this doesn't sound like an axiety disorder it sounds like obsessive compulsive disorder. along the same lines and checking the locks a hundred times, etc...

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answers from San Francisco on

OMG you could be describing my daughter, especially the monitoring the bathroom behavior (mine also monitors the kitchen, checking for expired food, etc.) It drives me crazy :(
You are doing the right thing by getting her help, it is NOT normal, it definitely sounds like an anxiety disorder.
My daughter has always shown signs of anxiety and OCD, but it wasn't until about half way through 6th grade that it started to really get out of control. In her case it was triggered by a nasty illness that she had while my husband and I were out of the country. After that she became OBSESSED with germs and anything else that could possibly make her sick, particularly food. She was hardly eating because she was so afraid (she has a vomit phobia) and lost almost 10% of her body weight.
I finally got her in to see a therapist, and she is doing better but she has a long way to go. And you are right, the wait lists can be long. I was shocked to learn that SO many kids have these problems but there are a limited number of therapists that work with kids and teens. So sad!
Best of luck to your daughter and you :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Jackson on

Congratulations on being a good Mother! I'm impressed that you have an appointment with a Child Psychiatrist.

Although she hasn't seen the Specialist at this time, I suggest you schedule set up an appointment with another Psychiatrist, Psychologist or Therapist. Schedule an appointment now, then you will have little or no wait for a second opinion (if needed.)

I also suggest she see an Allergist. When contacting an Allergist's office, ask if the Physician test's for "sensitivities" as well as "allergies to food and environmental (dust, ragweed etc....)

I'm wishing you the best!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on


First, I am so sorry. I know this is tough!

I have a daugther the same age as yours. I am not a professional psychologist, I can only base my comments on my own experiences, both with my own daughter and her friends alike.

What you are describing does not sound like "typical" or "normal" behavior of a girl that age. She sounds so stressed. She shouldn't be at this age! There is plenty of time for her to worry when she is an adult. My heart aches for her. I think you are doing the right thing by having her see someone. So many people can benefit from therapy!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'd say this is not normal. I wouldn't diagnose it as "Anxiety Disorder" because there are other names, including OCD, and probably many more. I agree that you shouldn't use Wikipedia! It's not always a reliable source, since anyone can post information!

I think it's very wise for you to make a list of her behaviors. The more info you can give to a professional, the better. I agree with you that you need to try to shield your second child from these stresses, and get your 7 year old into a good program with a physician and a psychologist or other behaviorists/professionals who specialize in these issues. I have a cousin who has these issues and it's very frustrating for him but also has an impact on others in the family.

If the pediatric psychiatrist won't take your daughter's case, find someone who will. Unless you are happy with the psychologist with whom you have an appointment in 4 weeks. That person can probably refer you, as needed, for medical evaluations so you don't have to have all your eggs in the one psychiatrist's basket.

The bottom line is, you are not happy, your younger child is not happy, and your 7 year old is not happy. So you have to do something. You are doing the right thing by pursuing a variety of professional interventions.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

i think you are right to take her for the appt. i'm not a professional by far, but to me this also sounds like OCD. i have a mild form of ocd myself and get obsessive over things at times as well. i am on meds for a mood disorder and it helps to curn my ocd...sorry for going on about myself. i have several cousins who were just like your daughter when they were young, and they benefitted from therapy!!!! good luck and i'll pray for you all!!

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answers from Dallas on

Well I wish my daughter who is 8 had a bit of your daughter's organizational skills seeing how my daughter's room is always a mess! All kidding aside, it does sound a bit obsessive. Could be a bit of OCD going on here. I wouldn't object to counseling. It might help a bit. Just to get her to relax some if anything. As she gets older, it may get worse. So it'll be a good idea to get a hold onto it now. The right counselor would just help her learn how to manage these feelings better. So I would suggest you look into that while you are waiting on the other. I have my dtr in counseling for her adhd and her lack of impulse control and it does help. Good luck!

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answers from Minneapolis on

I agree that seeking a diagnosis and therapy is needed here. Whether she is experiencing anxiety disorder or OCD, or anything else, these behaviors are causing her stress and are affecting her enjoyment of life. Good luck.

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answers from Chicago on

Have her checked for a candida infection. Craving starches and weird behavior is a symptom. That doesn't mean that's your whole problem, but many children with mental disorders have been helped with being detoxed of yeast and fungus. Research it!



answers from Cleveland on

I think it's great you have an appointment, if they can help great and if she doesn't need help great too.

I was not going to respond but i see someone else mentioned allergy testing and the whole time i was reading your question i thought the same thing. i really think the food we eat might be affecting some of us in ways that manifest themselves as behavior issues.

I think you are doing a great job from what you've said. I hope it all turns out well.



answers from Boston on

We got my daughter a book titled "What to do when your brain gets stuck". She read it with me, there are some exercises, it is geared to little kids.
Certainly sounds like OCD to me. My kids went through phases - my firstborn could not leave the house as a toddler without 2 specific plastic dolls, one in each hand. When she was about 8 she had to have a bottle of hand-disinfectant gel nearby at all time. My youngests has a ritual of touching certain dolls every night. However, it never affected our every day life which our pediatrician said was the definition of OCD. It it makes you late, if you cannot leave the house without certain rituals, if it affects others in the house, then I think it is OCD. Working with a psychologist or psychiatrist (latter can prescribe medicine) can help overcome these impulses with or without meds. Good luck.
At middle school graduation the principal said this which will stay with me: "You are only as happy as your unhappiest child". Sorry to hear you are experiencing this stress, but there is hope. A co-worker was became severely OCD and a few years later after therapy he let us know got married and now lives a happy, if still very organized but no longer stressful, life.


answers from Dallas on

I think you are totally jumping the gun here. I have been treated for anxiety for years and I know that I had it as a kid. She probably is feeling a bit of it, but based on a few things that are going on with you guys' life, I can only lable this as normal. She is only 7 and can only control a limited amount of things. Her room, her sister's bathroom use, etc, are what she CAN try to control. I would involve her in more choices and see if that helps.


answers from St. Louis on

It is normal for someone who has OCD and anxiety disorder. Is it normal for those who dont? No. And thank you btw for getting her help. I have had an anxiety disorder my whole life. I would have irrational fears all day everyday. My parents were going to die, I was going die. I was going to get some kind of disease. I would have panic attacks, they would just come out of no where. I can remember opening the fridge door one day, and boom, thought I was going to die and couldnt catch my breath, riding in the car, hello panic attack. As an adult, I dont have panic attacks, but my mind drives me crazy with my fears. :(



answers from Seattle on

I am so sorry this is happening to you and your daughter. I'm not an expert so I can't really diagnose or offer a possible solution to your daughter's issues. I've worked with children with special needs and have seen cildren liike your daughter before. Please rest assured that your daughter can get better, and can receive the helpshe needs. (And no, this isn't normanl for a 7 year old. And there shouldn't be any stigma for taking your daught to a counselor! Trust me!)

I do have one thought for you. Since your daughter is 7, you should be able to receive services through the local scool district, and these services should be free. Even though it's summer, you can try to contact the principal of your daughter's school (he may be on vacation though) and request that she be test throught the school district. If this fails, go to the school district headquarters and let them know you want your daughter tested through the district. (It's psychological testing you want.) They may balk at you, but if you push for testing (which they legally bound to provide) and they diagnose your daughter with anxiety, or ocd or anything else that is interfering with shchool, then they must pay for counseling, and any other services deemed appropriate while she is in school.

I can't promise anything will come of this, but it may provide you with some sort of services before October, and it should be free.

Good luck with you daughter.




answers from Washington DC on

It sounds to me like anxiety. I think a degree of anxiety in kids is normal (fear of weather, parent getting sick, parent leaving, etc). Is she learning about germs in school and fearful someone will get sick?

The red flag for me is the food obsessions. I have 2 daughters and think it's important that food never be used as something other than it is: nutrition. It sounds like your daughter is comforting herself with food. It can't hurt to see a psychologist before routines become ingrained in her.

We took my daughter to a child psychologist for anxiety behavior. It was a good experience for us and made me feel like I was doing everything I could to help her. The doctor reported that her behavior was just a bad habit and not an anxiety issue but did give us some relaxation techniques. Can you make an earlier appointment with someone else? I would want to get to the root sooner rather than later to ease your mind.

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