Child Sense: Playing it safe in the sun
By Priscilla Dunstan
While we all understand that keeping our children safe from sun damage is very important, it also can be difficult to do when we have little children who protest. Although we should be uncompromising in the wearing of hats, sunscreen, etc., we also need to be adaptable in our approach and try to work with our child to find the type of sun protection they like and will wear. Using your child’s dominant sense can help with this process.
Plan ahead with your tactile child and aim to put on the sunscreen before they reach the park, beach or pool. They tend to dislike the texture of sunscreen on their skin and will resist with vigor as you try to apply it. Sprays can be a good option as all they need to do is stand still with their eyes closed for a minute or so and be sprayed. Making sure the sunscreen is actually fully on, or trying to reapply effectively, can be hard with a tactile child, so think of alternatives such as clothing that blocks the sun, sun hats and large umbrellas they can play under. As tactile children respond well to rules and clear boundaries, don’t be afraid to make sun protection a priority. No sun protection, no playing in the sun!
Visual children can become obsessed with the sunscreen not showing, or being too shiny or white, so bring a small mirror to reassure them it’s all rubbed in. You may find that they will want to help you put it on — especially surrounding the face — so if they are old enough encourage this type of self care. Pick a sunscreen that doesn’t leave a color or noticeable residue, and if it has a picture of their favorite cartoon character on it, all the better. Appeal to the visual child’s fashion sense by having an array of different hats and sun shirts to mix and match and let them pick them out like they would accessories.
Forget large brimmed hats that cover your auditory child’s ears as they don’t tend to be huge fans of items that can distort the sound around them which large hats can do. Baseball caps however will be a hit especially if everyone else is wearing one or they come with a story, such as “I got this hat when Daddy took us to Disney land.” They will enjoy telling the story over and over and this will give you a chance to spray or rub on some sun lotion while they are distracted talking. Create a summer song to aid with the sun routine; sing about hats and sunscreen and for ease, set it to family favorites like “Old McDonald” or “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”
You will want a low-fragrance, sensitive-skin sunscreen for your taste and smell child. They will prefer the lotion rather than a spray as the mist can interfere with their sense of taste and smell. They generally are rather sensitive, especially when it comes to being hot, tired and thirsty, so make a special effort to provide lots of drinks and shade that they can sit and relax under, without needing to keep wearing sunscreen. Instead think hats, sun umbrellas and shirts or sun body suits. This will help minimize the need for the “smelly sunscreen.”
Sun protection is necessary and important, but it doesn’t need to ruin your time in the sun. Be relaxed, but firm, and you and your little one will have a wonderful summer playing together in the great outdoors. And remember, to try to stay out of the sun during the middle of the day when the sun is its most damaging.