Talking to Your Child about Sun Protection at the Pool

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Children love fun, but seem to hate safety. They have a kind of invincibility complex that enables them to involve themselves in silly, risky behavior without considering the consequences. That is where parents come in. Playing with scissors and touching the stove are obvious dangers, but what do you say to children about sun exposure? The sun is there all the time; how are they supposed to know that sunlight can actually be bad for them in excess?

As summer hits, children are probably going to be spending plenty of time at the pool, enjoying themselves and getting important exercise. However, sun protection is key. Here are some ways that we recommend you talk to your child about sun protection:

  • First of all, do not scare them. Children tend to scare easily, so do not give your child unnecessary details or facts about skin cancer. This will cause your child to fear stepping outside. Instead, tell your child that too much sun can make them sick.
  • Compare the idea of your child getting excess direct sun exposure to eating too much candy. While sun can be a mood-lifter and may be appealing, too much of it is harmful. If they ask how much is too much, let them know that play time in direct sun can be too much, whereas short-term sun exposure from sitting in the car or walking around their school is fine for their age.
  • Remember that things like wrinkles or early aging mean nothing to a child. Adults should certainly be concerned about this, but children are not always aware that they will become adults someday. They can easily shrug off warnings about the sun's superficial effects.
  • Tell your child that sunscreen is quick to apply and completely invisible. Be sure that your child wears waterproof sunscreen every time they get into the pool, even when it is not summer or not hot outside. Tell them directly that this is something they just have to do, like brushing their teeth. It may not be fun, but it is necessary. If they do it, they will be healthy and can enjoy themselves once it is over.

 

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