Don’t refer to it as “sunblock.” Call it “Magic Lotion” that will act as a “magic shield,” protecting her from the sun.
Pretend that the lotion can benefit your kid in some way: make her a better swimmer, totally invisible, incredibly strong, or give her some other sort of power.
If you’re using a white suntan lotion that takes a while to rub in, turn the lathering process into an art project—on your child’s body. Rub some lotion on your child’s belly, but do not rub it in completely. You can draw in it with your fingers before rubbing in the lotion. Let her do the same with you when you put on your sunscreen.
Use a natural incentive, if it exists: “When you have sunscreen on, we can go to the beach.” If the destination is undesirable, you may need to develop an unnatural incentive. “When you have sunscreen on, you can pick the music in the car/read a story before we go.”
Purchase a washrag hand puppet (available at most mass merchandisers or department stores) and use it to apply the lotion. It’s much more fun when the duck applies the lotion than when you do.
Take a paintbrush and a small bowl with you to the beach or the picnic. Let your child dip the brush in the lotion and paint it onto her body by herself. You rub it in as she paints.