Separation anxiety, also known as “pangingilala” in the vernacular, is a common and naturally-occurring milestone in a child’s emotional development. This usually starts to appear between 8 and 9 months, peaks at around 1 year, and gradually disappears before 2 years old. Your baby may have different ways to show you he has separation anxiety, but children will commonly make a fit or would have tantrums while he clings to you very tightly, or cry silently while watching you leave the house.
”Pangingilala” is an important emotional milestone, but what is the best way to manage it? What can moms (and dads) do when baby is exhibiting signs of separation anxiety?
1. Be supportive. Seeing so many unfamiliar faces increases baby’s anxiety, but he will gradually warm up to them eventually. If he does not welcome the new face instantly, wait for a few minutes so that he could get accustomed to the new surroundings, then try again. However, there will be some relatives who, for some reason, think it’s endearing or cute to see the baby cry when his mother leaves. Make them understand that this only worsens the situation, and is by all means a no-no.
2. Warn relatives. It might be helpful to tell your relative upfront that baby is in that “nangingilala” stage, for them to better understand your child’s behavior. This will also hopefully help prevent any misunderstandings or ‘tampo’ with lola.
3. Teach relatives and friends the appropriate approach. Tell your relatives and friends that you want to give your baby enough time and space to observe, explore and discover the new experience. By going slow, using a soft and pleasant tone, offering familiar toys and waiting for him to accept it, the unfamiliar becomes familiar.