First and foremost, let your child know that this is not a choice. She can choose where you rub it in first if she’d rather, but in order to go out in the sun, she must have on sunscreen.
Plan to put on the suntan lotion before you get to your final destination—ideally, when you’re getting dressed or just about to leave the house. This way, sand or dirt won’t get stuck in the lotion as you apply. And sunscreen works better if it has had up to half an hour to absorb.
Use your TV. With a good children’s show in front of them, most kids won’t even notice what you are doing to them.
Let your child put it on by herself—you can be her “helper” and rub it in.
If you’re headed to the beach and you have a difficult lotioner on your hands, consider purchasing a UV-proof bodysuit (sometimes called “duck suits”)—that way, you’ll only have the face, hands, and feet to lotion up.
Do everything in your power to ensure that the sunscreen does not get into your child’s eyes. It is incredibly painful and will create a Pavlovian response whenever you reach for the bottle. Allow your child to hold tissues or a towel over her eyes during the application process.