With such a huge selection of family-friendly restaurants to choose from, Center Parcs is the perfect place to eat out with your children. This can be a positive family experience that helps boost your children’s communication skills, confidence and sense of adventure. We asked Anita Cleare, a parenting coach and author of the Thinking Parenting blog (anitacleare.co.uk/thinking-parenting), to tell us more about the benefits.
Time to talk
Eating out together gives families an often-rare chance to come together and shoot the breeze. “Having conversations with your children is one of the best ways to boost their intelligence and neurological development,” says Anita. “Research shows that the number of conversations a young child participates in can still be seen 10 years later in their language and literacy levels. So, it’s not just about the amount of language they’re exposed to, it’s the number of conversations. And the dinner table is one of the best places to have conversations.”
Fewer distractions (and zero washing up to do)
Do you ever sit down for a meal at home, only to get up two seconds later to check on something? All you can think about is the washing that needs to be done – you can’t switch off. “When you go out to eat, you have that luxury of someone else cooking the food and doing the dishes for you,” says Anita. “That means you can focus on the nice bits rather than it just being one more chore – because dinner can be a bit of a chore when it’s at home and part of a busy life.
Eating out together as a family helps children learn how to behave in different places. Even ordering a drink can hone your child’s social skills. Plus, talking about what you’ve done that day over dinner helps them to make memories. This plays a part in carving out their identities, in turn boosting confidence. Anita says: “Memories are important for children’s resilience and an internal resource to draw upon – they’re a little well of happiness. They help form a sense of family identity, answering questions like, ‘Who are we? What do we do together?’ And that’s important for children to build their own sense of selves.”
Anita says children are more likely to be adventurous in their food choices when they got out to eat. “When children see other children eating different foods, they’re more likely to try it themselves,” she says. “If children are willing to take a risk on something little like trying new foods, then hopefully that gives them the confidence to take calculated risks in other situations where they may be unsure at first.”
Our restaurants can get very busy so we advise that you make a reservation. A £5 deposit per person will secure a table and will be taken from your final bill. To book, sign in to your account: centerparcs.co.uk/my-account. There is no need to book at The Pancake House or Sports Café – just turn up. Children’s play areas can be found in many of our restaurants.