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Tips to teach your kids sun safety

Constant hen-pecking and nagging to put a hat on and stay out of the midday sun with the use of idle threats are not effective ways to teach your kids sun safety. Learning to be sun smart should be fun.

mom putting sunscreen on little boy

These SheKnows top tips for tots are a great way to teach your kids about being sun smart.

Reading is fun

Kids love books with bright, colourful illustrations and fun rhyming language. From a young age you can start instilling sun safety knowledge by choosing books with summer themes. It can lead to discussions on being sun smart.

Suggested titles:

spot goes to the beach

Spot Goes to the Beach by Eric Hill (Penguin Books, Australia, $13) is a great basis for discussion on whether Spot slips, slops and slaps on his beach adventure and what things he could have done better.

my hippopotamus is on our caravan roof getting sunburnt

My Hippopotamus is on Our Caravan Roof Getting Sunburnt by Hazel Edwards (Dymocks, $15) is about a hippo that hits the beach with the family to surf, collect shells and play beach cricket from the caravan rooftop, but he only packs cake in his luggage.

Set an example

Be sure before you head outdoors that you take the appropriate sun safety precautions and set a good example. Kids are impressionable from a young age and two to three year olds are like little parrots and copy everything you do. So before you head out anywhere don’t forget to slip, slop, slap.

Create a daily routine

Make sun safety a part of the daily routine for the whole family before you leave the house. This inludes wearing hats, protective clothing, sunnies and sunscreen. A lot of children don’t like wearing sunscreen because it smells funny, or they don’t like the feel of it on their skin. Choosing a fragrance-free, non-greasy sunscreen designed especially for kids should help iron out those issues. For those of you with kids who don’t like to stand still for more than two seconds, perhaps choose a clear spray, or if you have a stubborn child who insists they put it on themselves, choosing a roll on applicator will help get an even coverage.

Make a shade cubby house

Part of being sun smart is staying in the shade if you’re outdoors during the hottest part of the day. Making a shade cubby house is a fun way to encourage this. It doesn’t have to be flash. Remember the cubby houses you used to make using mum’s blankets and dining room table chairs? All you need is a couple of old bedspreads, pegs, a few chairs, ropes and lots of cushions. Sit in the cubby house and have lunch with your kids, play board games or read books.

Have sing-a-longs

Kids love to sing and there are a number of songs you can teach them which incorporate the sun smart message, like the Sun Smart Countdown song and the Sunscreen Dance complete with actions.

Draw sun safety postersfamily drawing together

All you need is a big roll of butchers paper available from Australia Post and a selection of crayons, textas and coloured penicls. Encourage your kids to draw pictures of what happens if you spend too long in the sun and what things you need to protect yourself from sunburn.

More sun smart tips

How much sun protection is enough?
Learn the lingo: What does UVA, UVB and SPF really mean?
What do levels of sunscreen mean?

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