Developing independent sun protection skills


Early childhood experts advise that children usually have a natural drive to be independent and do things on their own. This is a healthy part of normal child development allowing them to gradually learn more tasks. Parents and carers can help young children become independent by allowing and encouraging them to take responsibility for themselves whenever possible. It can be faster and less messy to do things for children, but they learn so much from doing things for themselves. When children practice self-help skills such as feeding and dressing themselves, they practice their large and small motor skills, gain confidence in their ability to try new things and build their self-esteem and pride in their independence. ( )

Sun protection examples include:

Clothing choices: Help children feel they have some say in their clothing choices.  E.g. You’ll be doing a lot of playing outside today. Which clothes will fun and comfortable to wear?  Would you like to wear the blue or green shirt?  Do you think that top will help protect your skin from the sun?

Hats: Wearing a sun hat needs to become a regular part of the outdoor routine. It’s important to ensure children can easily find and access their hat. Perhaps have a special basket or hook to store hats so children know where to grab them from and can do this automatically.

Sunscreen:  Set up a sunscreen station at home with a pump pack of sunscreen and a mirror. It may be near the door to go outside or on the bathroom bench. Make sunscreen application a bit of fun and encourage children to put a dot of sunscreen on each cheek, nose and their chin and carefully rub it in (avoiding the eye area). They can add squiggles of sunscreen to any part of their arms and legs not covered with clothing. Apply your sunscreen at the same time so children can watch how you do it and follow your example.

Shady play spaces:  Encourage children to find shady spots outside for their outdoor play. They can move their activities to follow the shade. Perhaps they can help you create shady play spaces by laying a blanket under the tree, choosing a good spot for the shade umbrella or helping to drape thick fabric such as canvas over the clothes line for a built-in shade tent. 

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