Play Safe in the Sun

outdoorPeople spend more time outdoors in the summer by going to the pool, the beach, camp, and other outdoor events. Boston Children’s Museum also offers more exciting outdoor programs throughout the summer. When you are spending a lot of time outdoors in the beaming sun, it’s always important to be mindful about sun safety. You have probably heard enough about this topic, as information about it is everywhere, but I also hear grown-ups say, “my kids don’t like sunscreen” or “I can’t get my child to drink any water.” I wrote a blog post about summer safety last year, but for this month’s Tasty Tuesday’s post and handout, I would like to focus more on strategies to make sun-safety part of your family routine:

1. Kids can be responsible for their safety routines.

Kids can have their own job in sun-safety, and they often enjoy being the one in charge! Starting from a very young age, children can actually perform a lot of tasks independently. It doesn’t mean that children don’t need to be supervised, but for example, you can give your child a pump bottle with sunscreen in it and let her pump it and smear it all over her body on her own. Or she can be the one who checks how much water is left in the water bottle. Invite your kids to play an active role in the family’s sun safety (with your guidance, of course), and they will adopt these good practices as their own behavior.

2. Find alternatives and offer options.

Children tend to respond much better when they are offered choices. For example, your child can make his own choice on whether he wants to put on sunscreen or a long-sleeve shirt. It probably won’t go so smoothly in the beginning (i.e. he may choose neither), but be consistent and patient by saying “it’s really important to protect your skin when we’re out in the sun. Do you want to wear sunscreen or do you want to wear long-sleeve shirt? It’s your choice.” You can also explore choices together. In the process, you may find out that your child likes eating ice rather than drinking water to stay hydrated, for example.

3. Make it fun!

Taking some extra time and making things fun makes a lot of difference in children’s learning and habit building.  You can try fun activities such as making colorful ice cubes by using juice (it also adds some flavor without adding too much sugar), making ice in a funny shaped tray, decorating sunscreen containers, decorating a sun visor with fabric markers and iron-on fabric patches, etc. The ideas are endless! Even for small children who don’t like sunscreen, drawing on the body with sunscreen and “erasing it” by rubbing the sunscreen on the skin may help reduce the stress of the sunscreen routine.  The point is to make it fun – not to make it a struggle or a frustration.

We are celebrating Sun Safety Day on Saturday July 26th.  So join the event to learn about sun-safety in fun ways, and also come to Tasty Tuesday with yummy snacks to share your creative tips on how to make sun safety routines more fun and engaging for children!

 

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