Healthy Habits We Teach our Kids

Cynthia Bailey, MD|June 2, 2016

Healthy Habits for Kids_main

As a mom I taught my kids to put on sunscreen every morning, 365 days a year. I had my kids in medical school and in my dermatology residency. I was seeing the consequences of sun damaged skin on a daily basis in my training and I vowed to teach my kids good skin care habits.

I started applying sunscreen to their skin when they were babies and toddlers. As grade-school age kids they began to do it every morning on their own as they got ready for their day. They saw lots of "mommy's boo boo books", which were dermatology textbooks and medical journals with pictures of scary things they did not want. Nowadays, these pictures are all over the web and other media so kids know the reality even when their mom is not a dermatologist.


I taught my kids that a sunburn or even a tan is bad for their skin, meaning that when they are outside they need sunscreen and sun protective clothing. If they are hiking or at an outdoor event they need a hat, to seek the shade etc. There was some resistance to the hat but sun protection has become a healthy way of life for my kids.  We went to Disney World when my kids were about 7 and 12 and the attendants at our favorite rides started calling us the hat family. My kids enjoyed being noticed for something we were proud of. I don't have a digital photo of us at Disney World but here are my husband and kids hiking in the Sierras many years later, all wearing sunscreen, hats and sun protective clothing on a summer day (we hiked up to snow!).  

My kids are now grown. Their very fair skin has almost never been sunburned. As a dermatologist I know what a great self-care foundation this has laid for them. I’m sure they will pass it on to my grandchildren when the time arrives.

For some motivating statistics see our post on Melanoma Monday

A really important post I wrote years ago contains a sad sunburn photo that still breaks my heart. Sunburns were part of my childhood and the childhood of many people. Let's say no to that from now on with our precious little ones! 

This post explains why you need broad spectrum sun protection for your skin every day. 

Here are some fun facts about why it matters, even for young people!  How do you adequately protect yourself?  Here are the products I trust for my patients and my family. There are broad spectrum state of the art sunscreens for every skin type and budget. Don't forget to add hats - be that "hat family" that everyone notices. Your kids' skin will be healthy and beautiful for their lifetime and you will have set them on an invaluably strong foundation of self care.

What are some of the healthy skin care habits you are establishing with your kids?  If you have kids who are grown, have they carried on the healthy habits you've instilled in them to their kids?  We'd love to hear your stories!  Please join our conversation by sharing, tweeting, liking and pinning!

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