These are words I am sure most mothers have heard. One mom I know has gone as far as to offer chocolate, toys, and money in exchange for a no squirming, no screaming application session. As parents, we know the importance of wearing sunscreen all year long. In fact, snow reflects sunlight just as well as water in a pool during the summer months. Cloudy or rainy days are not safe either. But how do we convince our kids?
The Pre-K Crowd
For those with pre-school age children, make a game out of it. This age group loves to make-believe and play games with adults. There is no use in trying to reason with them-you won’t get anywhere! Keep it simple. Tell them you spoke with Mr. Sun and he expects them to put on the sunscreen if they want to play outside. Engage them while you’re applying the lotion by asking them why they think Mr. Sun wants them to wear it. This way you keep them interested in the conversation and their focus is not on the application process. You’ll also confirm that your words have not fallen on deaf ears all those other times.
Elementary School Crowd
If your child is in elementary school, turn the whole ordeal into a fun project. Ask them to help you come up with a list of healthy habits in regard to their bodies. The usual topics will come up, such as, proper diet and exercise. This will give you an opening to bring up skin care. Ask them to list ways they can keep their skin healthy. Offer to take them to the library to do some research and after they are done and you “approve” their project, you will go out for ice cream as a reward. Bribing? Yes, but it just might just work! When it comes to the application process, approach them with a “you’re a big kid” tone and how they just don’t need you anymore for such a task.
Now the toughie: teenagers. Convincing a teenager that you know what’s best is next to impossible. That goes for any subject! You can try “Harsh Reality” and basically tell them they will look like dried up old prunes in their old age if they don’t wear sunscreen year round. This might just work with the females of this group. Add in that men don’t appreciate that look and you might see a dust cloud following them to the local store. Boys are no easier, but the same tactics might just work. In all seriousness, your best bet will be to speak to them as adults. Sit them down and explain the harsh reality that is skin cancer. Back your argument up with facts. Tell them you love them and want what’s best for them and trust them to do the right thing. Make sure you make it seem like it’s their decision. Otherwise, you’ll just be butting your head up a very familiar wall.
Our job as parents is not always easy. We’re often left questioning our decisions and second-guessing our approach. There should be no questioning when it comes to year-round sunscreen. Finding innovative ways to get our point across to our children is sometimes the only way we can “win” in the end.
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