Summer with the kids is here and with it it brings BBQs, fun in the park, splashing in the paddling pool and….the battle that is trying to get a child to wear suncream! Whether it’s on holiday, at the beach, on a walk or even in your own garden…trying to cover a young child in suncream (and keep them smiling!) can be a VERY difficult task.
So how exactly can you persuade a young child to wear suncream?
Firstly, why is it important to wear suncream?
I often say when parenting that it’s important to ‘pick your battles’ , basically to try not to fall out with children over the small things but to pick certain (important) non-negotiable rules and enforce them consistently. Applying suncream has to be one of these non-negotiable rules that must be enforced. This is because it’s incredibly important that children (and grown ups!) protect their skin from the sun.
Not only is sunburn uncomfortable, but Ultra Violet (UV) radiation is the main cause of skin cancer. According to Cancer Research Uk ‘Almost 9 in 10 cases of melanoma, the most serious type of skin cancer, could be prevented through enjoying the sun safely and avoiding sun beds’*
Unfortunately, as important as it is ..let’s face it…trying to explain UV radiation and the increased risk of melanoma is unlikely to work when you are at the beach attempting to apply suncream to your young child.
Why do some children dislike suncream so much?
It’s always useful to try and see and situations from a child’s point of view, in order to help. There are lots of reasons a child may be put off by suncream. It could be it’s sticky consistency, different smell or the fact that someone is spreading it all over their (already hot and sticky!) skin. A few minutes can also feel like a lifetime to young children- they may be desperate to go and play and dislike standing still for so long whilst you apply it!
So how can you try and make putting suncream on your child less upsetting?
Here are our top tips:
- Set a Good Example– Children often like to copy adults and, in my opinion, if they see you applying sun cream to yourself they are much more likely to be happier wearing it themselves. According to Cancer Research UK’s data ‘only 28% of parents strongly agree that they are setting a good example their children about sun protection’ * so this data would suggest more of us could make an effort to set a good example.
- Books– Children’s books are a brilliant way of highlighting important issues to children in a gentle, kid friendly way. Books are literally my ‘go to’ resource when parenting. I’ve found a good children’s book can have the power to get through to a child when I can’t. The messages for children’s books also seem to stick in children’s minds. We’d really recommend the ‘Ohhh, My Strawberry Monkey’ picture book series, from My Strawberry Monkey. They have one book dedicated especially to the issue of sun safety.
Strawberry Monkey ‘Loves the Sun’ has genuinely helped encourage my own children to wear suncream and I’ve even heard my eldest quote the books when we’ve been talking about putting on suncream! The book, which can be found on Amazon here, tells the story of a cute, lovable but clumsy monkey who’s too busy playing and forgets to put on suncream and gets sun burnt. He learns a valuable lesson about sun safety and discovers how to keep his skin safe in future.
- Let them Help- I’ve always found that control, or at least a feeling of some control, is so important to young children. When I think of the major causes of conflict with my little ones…teeth brushing, getting dressed..and of course applying suncream, it made me realise these are all things that ‘are being done to them’ and don’t give them much control. We’ve found that by giving children a little bit of control by letting them help- they find it much easier. For example, with suncream they could perhaps choose if they want their legs doing first or their arms. Or they could have a go at applying some suncream under supervision (with you ensuring their suncream is fully applied after).
- Educating– Whilst telling your children about the effects of UV radiation and risks of melanoma might be a little tricky for them to understand, teaching them about sunburn and how it hurts could be a good deterrent. Again, using children’s books and characters such as the book Strawberry Monkey Loves the Sun can be a great mechanism of illustrating the effects of sunburn in a child-friendly way.
Find out more about ‘Ohhh, My Strawberry Monkey’ picture book series on their website www.mystrawberrymonkey.com, it’s a fantastic website full of free games, activities, colouring pages etc for young children-it’s well worth a look.
*Data from http://www.cancerresearchuk.org who state that all their figures are from YouGov Plc online survey.
••Please note this post was sponsored. All thoughts and opinions are our own.