Now that warmer weather is here, it’s important to help protect your child from harmful UV rays. However, that can be easier said than done if your child has sensory needs. Project Play Therapy’s Occupational Therapy Team has 5 tips to help keep your child safe from the sun this summer!
Be a role model:
If you want your child to wear sunscreen, it would be best for you to wear it too. Children learn by example. Have your child help with applying sunscreen to your arms or legs. Don’t forget to sing and make it fun and enjoyable! (Please remember to not “fix” their application in front of them and make the experience positive).
Develop a routine:
Every time you go outside, stop to apply sunscreen! Most of our sensory seeking friends crave and work best with routines. Provide a visual schedule to help them anticipate when it is going to happen and remember to stay consistent.
Preparing your child for application:
- Try using deep pressure massage to the child prior to applying (start at the middle of the body and move out towards the arms and legs).
- With supervision, allow them time to independently experience the sunscreen or sun stick by allowing them to hold, smell, and feel it.
- Warm up the sunscreen in your hands prior to applying as the cold is often non-preferred.
- Use a visual timer so that they can be prepared for how long they have to wait and they can anticipate a stopping point.
Make it fun!
Sing a song or turn it into a game, all while holding the sunscreen themselves or a preferred toy. A favorite song is always, “You Are My Sunshine”. You can also create a reward system for successful application. Try a sticker chart where your child can place their favorite stickers for each application. After 5 days in a row, they could earn their favorite summer treat!
Accommodations for children who won’t allow application:
Use rash guards and UPF swim shirts to cover torso and arms, thus limiting exposure and time during application, as well as, providing proprioceptive input. Also, hats are a great way to limit exposure to face, neck, and ears.
There is no “one size fits all” method when it comes to children with sensory needs. Find a routine that works best for your family and RUN WITH IT! Have fun and stay safe outside! For more tips on fun ways to stay safe and busy this summer, visit our social media!
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