A Guide to Getting Kids to Understand Sun Safety
Nothing feels worse than coming back from the beach with a horrific sun burn. While you probably know from experience how painful a sun burn can be, your children may not and and teaching them about sun safety will help ensure they get into good habits and, more importantly, protect themselves from dangers that sun exposure can cause.
We now know just how important sun safety is, but when your children are anxious to get out to the pool, they’re not interested in learning why we should take time to put on sun screen. If you’re headed to the beach or planning a vacation filled with outdoor activities, check out my easy guide on how to teach kids about sun safety.
Monkey See Monkey Do
Before you leave the hotel room, make putting on sunscreen a family affair. The best way to get your children interested in sun safety is to show them that you and your spouse put it on too.
As you lather up, explain to your children what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Tell them that sun burns can hurt for days and make sleeping difficult and uncomfortable. Don’t forget to talk about sun poisoning. A truly bad burn can land them in bed and unable to swim or play. If you’re comfortable talking about cancer or the long term effects of sun exposure with your children, feel free to bring it up.
Make sure to mention how important sun safety is to you and your spouse. As you probably know, your children love to imitate you, so if you like something, chances are they will too.
Teach Them How
Now that your children are interested, teach your children more about how to protect themselves. They may know why the sun’s rays are harmful, but they might not understand how to protect themselves.
An easy place to start is with clothing. Clothing protects the skin from the sun, and accessories such as sunglasses and hats, UPF protective clothing (rash guards) can shade other parts of the body. Show your children how to apply sunscreen to places not covered by clothing. When you’re getting ready to leave the hotel, make sure they grab a hat, sunglasses or both.
There are a many fashionable rash guards. I recently bought a rash guard dress for myself by Cabanalife and since that day both my daughters want to wear protective clothing too.
They should also know that sunscreen needs to be reapplied throughout the day. Remind them that sweat and water can wash off sunscreen so it must be reapplied several times a day. Again, show them that you and your spouse are reapplying their sunscreen, and they’ll be more likely to get involved.
Short Shadow, Seek Shade
One of the easiest tricks to remind your children to reapply sunscreen is “short shadow, seek shade.” If the child’s shadow is shorter than his or her actual height, sunscreen is a must.
As kids often play with their own shadows, this “short shadow, seek shade” trick will remind them to think about their sunscreen throughout the day. Even if they don’t come in to reapply, it will remind them to take a break under a tree or back in the hotel room.
No parent wants to watch his or her child suffer through sun burn. Talk about sun screen safety in your home and turn it into a routine. Once your children get into the swing of it, they won’t forget to put on sunscreen or at least grab a hat.
How do you teach kids about sun safety? Share your tips with us!