Oxytocin and Emotion—What Is Oxytocin?

To understand love is to understand the oxytocin response. Oxytocin is truly a miracle molecule. As the body’s chemical of rest, relaxation and balance, it does all sorts of wonderful and important things. We’ll talk more about those later’ but the key thing you need to understand for healthy, happy parenting is that oxytocin is responsible for love.


That’s right. Oxytocin acting in your brain and your body creates the experience we know as love. That’s love in all its dimensions: friendship, the love between parent and child, and the love between you and your mate. It’s also responsible for most of the other positive feelings we have for other people, from the quick exchange of smiles with a stranger you pass, to admiration for a co-worker, to the way you trust your car mechanic not to rip you off.


Oxytocin does all this — and more — in two ways. First, it calms the brain’s fear center. Then, it activates the brain’s social center, making you feel good about interacting with someone. Calming the fear center is crucial. Fear is one of our strongest survival mechanisms, helping us survive physical danger. But it’s usually not the best reaction to social situations. When you’re anxious or afraid, you can’t see things clearly. You may see someone as threatening when he has no intention of harming you. You’re on guard and shut down, as fear chemicals race through your bloodstream.

Oxytocin counteracts the fear chemicals, relaxing you and making you able to see other people as potentially friendly and trustworthy. At the same time, when it activates the brain’s social center, it actually makes you desire social contact.

A healthy brain releases oxytocin in response to positive social cues. For example, when a mother cuddles her child, both of their brains should release oxytocin. The oxytocin travels into their bloodstreams, where it relaxes them and encourages cellular repair. It also enters the parts of their brain that process social information, making them feel secure and loving.

Humans are hard-wired to not only enjoy but to need to be close to other humans. Scientists think this is because, in the brains of highly social mammals – including monkeys, wolves, many birds and humans — the social centers are highly sensitive to both oxytocin and dopamine, the chemical of reward-seeking and pleasure. This combination makes socializing very pleasurable and calming. When we’re close to people we trust, the interaction of oxytocin and dopamine leads to us feeling happy and secure. But there is one very big IF in all this. When we say that humans are hard-wired to connect, we mean that our brains have this potential. But the desire for social interaction and the brain’s ability to release oxytocin are not automatic. This is a learned response, and it can fail to develop or its development can be thwarted.

Positive Parenting Tips: Keeping Kids Motivated

Positive parenting is about looking for results that have a lasting positive affect on your child. Keeping a child motivated can sometimes be difficult. This is especially true when they start seeing evidence that not all things will work out as planned. As a parent, your job is to keep them motivated and inspired to do good things even when the outlook doesn’t seem to match what they want.

Keep a goal chart.
Make a goal chart so that kids can keep track of their goals, dreams, and accomplishments. These can be a good mix between small and large goals. Blending them together helps kids see that some things can be accomplished quickly and easily, while others may take more time and effort. If you only track large goals, that could discourage some kids when hey see how long it’s taking. On the flip side, if you only track smaller, simple goals, they may think everything in life is easy, which could backfire when there are certain things they cannot have or do right away.

Cheer them on.
When watching your kids achieve goals, milestones, and achievements, don’t forget to cheer them on. This is true with the items on the chart and just everyday achievements. It can be easy to just shirk off the simple things after a child tells you about the same or similar things every day. But, if your child is excited about something, big or small, cheer her on anyway.
Don’t dwell on failures. It’s only natural that your child will not succeed at everything. Don’t focus on things. It’s alright to offer encouragement for your child to try again. But don’t focus overly on the negative aspects of failure. Instead, find the positive things that occurred in the process of trying to obtain goals.

Let them know they motivate you.

Most parents get inspired by their kids often. But how often do we let them know how they make us feel? We might tell them we love them. But when your kids inspire you to do something, do you tell them you are doing it because of them? Doing so lets them know they have the ability to do great things.

Foster what excites them.

Does your child get especially excited over something in particular? Harbor that interest. If it’s dance, get him in dance classes and offer gentle – not pushy – encouragement and guidance. If it’s medicine, take her to medical museums, buy books, and register her for age-appropriate classes. Fostering and encouraging their natural interests, without pushing them or expecting too much, helps children develop self-confidence. This motivates them to be the best they can be as individuals.

It’s Not About the Looks of the Parents, It’s Simply About the Love

In the recent Supreme Court debate about the Defense of Marriage
Act, Justice Antonin Scalia remarked that experts still don’t know the
long-term effects of gay people raising children. Many heterosexual people
worry that same sex marriage will lead to children becoming gay, feeling
unsupported, or experiencing major problems at home. However, numerous research studies show that sexual orientation just doesn’t matter when it comes to childhood outcomes. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a report synthesizing three decades of research on the topic. The main findings?
Gender, sexual orientation, and race of parents don’t matter. Strong
parent-child relationships, the parents’ relationship, parental stress levels,
and social support are far more essential for childhood development.

On a practical level, this makes perfect sense. A lesbian couple
who is warm, respectful, and loving is much more likely to raise healthy, happy children than a heterosexual couple who constantly fight, belittle one another, and talk down to their children. Similarly, interracial parents who are there
for their child’s soccer game demonstrate their love and commitment through their actions. The child of that biracial couple is much more likely to be physically and psychologically healthy than the children of two stressed out, absentee parents who happen to be white. Children need parents who are able to love them, discipline them as needed, celebrate their achievements, be there during their important events, become involved at school, foster their creativity, allow them to be vulnerable, and facilitate their independence. It’s about the love a child feels, rather than the race or sexual orientation of his parents.

In short, it doesn’t matter whether your daughter has two dads
showing up to her first dance recital, or two moms, or a black dad and white
mom, or any other configuration of parents. What matters is that she sees
smiling, loving faces looking up at her as she pirouettes and dances across the
stage. Even more important is fostering a strong, open relationship in which
children feel comfortable expressing their feelings, fears, and proudest
achievements. At the end of the day, it’s not about the looks: it all comes
down to the love.

EliteToyStore is a proud contributor to the Toys for Tots foundation.
November 14 – December 6th EliteToyStore will contribute $1 in toys for every fan on Facebook.
Your one click away from brightening a child’s holiday.
Like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EliteToyStore

Elite Toys Store Offers Tips for Parents – Spark Kids Interest In Science

There is much talk these days about the math and science gap that exists between boys and girls, but in fact, scores from the National Assessment for Educational Progress show very little evidence for a gap between the genders in science.
Researchers have been looking for answers to explain why there are so few women in the top ranks of science. We cannot explain the gap- we are just trying to get both genders to become more enthusiastic about science.
The problem is that as girls enter high school their interest in pursuing science careers begins to drop off. This may be due to lingering stereotypes that physics is more for boys, but if girls are passionate at a young age for science there is hope that the growing number of female scientists and engineers will help guide young women into these careers.
Parents play a huge role in helping their children start and stay motivated. Every school year children and their parents ponder over the question: What are good “science science projects?” They do not realize – they are surrounded by science. A science experiment can be done on almost anything and/or anywhere. Parents can help by building confidence in problem solving and encourage kids to explore, make mistakes and get dirty!
Some great ways to inspire every child to spike their curiosity for science:
• Check out your local library to see the activities offered.
• Community colleges will often offer weekend classes.
• Encourage your child (especially daughters) to dig into science. Let them know that it is okay for things to get messy, dirty or wet. Science is fun!
• Encourage the next school biography report to be a woman scientist.
• Be creative and find opportunities to do at home experiments.
• Start your own “Science Club.” Talk to other parents to get involved.
• Visit science centers and museums.
• Join informal astronomy clubs and science camps.
• Make science fun!
The new Nancy B Science products will help parents get started, the line is geared for girls but there are other kits available. They are cool and amazing scientific tools. The products consist of microscopes to complete dozens of activities, a Moon Scope to magnify the sky and explore, head to the beach or lake with an Aqua Scope to see what is lurking below, and even a Crime Solvers Scope for a make believe crime scene!
Check out the new line and bring out the passion for science in your children!
For more information about the new science products, contact Karen Wagner at (646) 322 8365 ,
karen@EliteToyStore.com or visit http://www.EliteToyStore.com.

Need a Game that turns Adults into Kids? Even Steven’s Odd

This game will not disappoint any adult or child! What an odd quirky title and what a fun quirky game we discovered.  The game play is all about fast hands and quick thinking.  Racing against opponents you need to roll the dice to satisfy the requirements of a randomly selected card.  Once the card is turned the race is on and frantic dice rolling ensues.  It all adds up to a great energy around the table that is replayed over and over.  Winners and losers don’t have time to celebrate or dwell because before you know it you are at it again.  One tester called it frantically fantastic.  That just about sums it up.  Very high replay scores from testers really tells the tale.  It doesn’t take very long to play, so it makes for an excellent filler in between longer play sessions.  It’s also a good choice for school nights, where homework and such take precedence.  All in all, “Even Steven’s Odd” is a delight to play!


Dice & Dice Holders – Twenty-four dice are included, which are broken up into four sets of six dice each.  Each set has three white dice and three dice of its own player color.  Likewise, the four dice holders are player color specific.

Challenge Cards – These forty challenge cards will task players with rolling specific combinations.  Cards with the star in the upper right hand corner of the card are designed for younger players and are thus easier to complete.

Steven – This semi-squishable, rubber-like character is who everyone will be aiming to grab in order to win a particular round.

Setup & Gameplay

Each player will choose a set of six dice and a matching dice holder.  The deck of challenge cards is shuffled and placed into the middle of the table, along with Steven.  If playing with younger kids, use only the cards with the star in the upper right hand corner to give them an easier experience.

The game as a whole is broken up into several rounds.  During a particular round, one player will flip over the next challenge card and read it aloud.  After that, it’s placed on the table for all to see.  At this point, players will race to roll dice (at the same time) and complete the combination listed on the card.  They can place dice they want to keep in their dice holder and roll again at will.  The first player to complete the combination and grab Steven wins the round, keeping the challenge card so that players can keep track of how many rounds a particular player has won.  The person with the most challenge cards after ten rounds, wins the game!

Halloween – Keeping it Safe and Fun – EliteToyStore.com

Halloween is around the corner and with trips to pumpkin patches, fall carnivals, and trick or treating keeping kids accounted for an in tow can be a challenge. It can be even more challenging if you are a single parent or if you are doing it all alone. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a great article all about Halloween Safety. One aspect of keeping kids safe is keeping track of them. With so many exciting things to see and scary ghouls and goblins around, kids may get lost.

Here are a few tips on keeping kids safe when trick or treating or when visiting Halloween activities or fairs:

  • Have a responsible adult with kids at all times. If you are a single parent ask a friend, neighbor, babysitter or another adult to help you out. Make it a group function with another single parent.
  • Children should have their own flashlight to “light the way” and let them feel in control. The Monster Flashlights are fun and do not require batteries (okay and they are just cute!).
  • If older children are going alone, have a plan available and make sure it is well communicated. Know the route in advance and agree to it if it’s acceptable to you as a parent. Agree on a specified time to be home.
  • Stay in well lit areas. Go to homes with porch lights that are on and clutter free. Do not approach vehicles.
  • Use reflective tape and carry flashlights while trick or treating or where it is dark.
  • Have your cell phone on hand.
  • Cross the street as a group in crosswalks. Do not zig zag across streets and never go onto the street between parked cars.

Tips and Tools on Brain Development – EliteToyStore.com

Activities for Infants. The first three years of life are a period of incredible growth in all areas of a baby’s development. A newborn’s brain is about 25 percent of its approximate adult weight. But by age 3, it has grown dramatically by producing billions of cells and hundreds of trillions of connections, or synapses, between these cells. In this section you will learn about the many ways parents and caregivers can help children get off to a good start and establish healthy patterns for life-long learning.

5 activities for infants that are educational and fun

1. Getting Dressed: Never miss an opportunity to practice the basics. From the very beginning, when you are dressing your baby, talk about the colors of the clothing and count the buttons on sweaters and jackets. It may seem too early but continuous chat is also beneficial, you might as well chat smartly!

1. Outdoors: When you are on the go, with the stroller or in the car, point out colors of flowers, leaves, signs, numbers and more. Not only will it encourage your baby’s curious side but it will expose your baby to different shapes, letters and colors.

2. Snack Time: Incorporate counting into snack time! Every time you put out raisins, crackers or slices of fruit, be sure to count them with your baby. You can also talk about the colors of the different foods. It is never to early to encourage color and counting skills!

3. Reading: Classic books are important but the library is full of books that combine reading with educational themes. Choose books that have brightly colored images and teach the ABC’s.

4. Bathtime: The bath is a great time for educational activities for infants. It is focused one-on-one time without many distractions. Look for great bath toys for example the Stack N Spray Tub Fountain Bath Toy! Excellent for learning Manipulative Skills, and Pretend Play

5. Tummy Time Activities: Babies enjoy the tactile experience and another opportunity to get them playing and learning simultaneously. Consider the Baby Tummy Time Fill ‘N’ Fun Water Play Mat, young ones can experience water fun without even getting wet! Rain or shine, youngsters can have fun!

It is so important to remember that babies are never too young to learn and retain information.

Go to www.EliteToyStore.com for more brain developing toys!

Blurt! Board Game Review

I am a big fan of the game show “Jeopardy”, even if I’m lousy at it.  Some of the answers are so vague or
specific that I have a hard time coming up with the correct question.
“Blurt!” is similar in play style in that a clue is read and players must
guess the word, though the objective isn’t to accumulate the most money.
Rather, you’ll be trying to move your game pawn around the board in order to
complete a full lap before everyone else does.

Blurt!: 3-12 Players*, Ages 7+,
Average Play Time = 30-45 Minutes

*Editor’s Note: Up to four/six
players can play individually, depending on the rule set chosen.  A group
of five/seven or more (respectively) will require folks to pair off into teams.


Cards – There are a total of three
hundred double-sided cards, with each side containing a total of
three questions.  The side marked with stars is kid-friendly while
the other side will provide more of a challenge.

Game Pieces – There are a total of
six pawns.  Up to four are used in the normal game while up to six are
used in the junior version rule set.

Setup & Gameplay

In the standard rule set, each
player chooses a pawn (red, orange, purple, or green) and places them on the
“!” space.  The yellow and blue pawns are only used in the junior version
rule set, which I’ll get to in a bit.  Players can then decide which side
of the cards they want to use throughout the whole game, though they can make
it so that the current reader has the choice.  Finally, each player rolls
the die to see who goes first.

Players will take turns as “The Reader”, who draws a card, rolls the die, and reads the question on the card
that corresponds with the die roll.  A roll of a 1 or 2 prompts the first
question, a roll of 3 or 4 prompts the second, and a roll of 5 or 6 prompts the
third question.  The answer is directly below the question.  The
other players or teams then blurt out answers at will and the first person or
team to get it right moves their pawn the number listed on the die.  Once
that’s done, the role of “The Reader” moves clockwise around the table.
There are a few extra rules for players to consider while all of this is going on.  If a player lands on
another player’s pawn, a “one-on-one” challenge will occur.  A neutral
party draws a cards, reads a question of their choice, and the winner gets to
stay on that spot while the loser has to go back from where the challenger
came.  When a player lands on a color of their own colored pawn, they can
move to any space currently occupied by someone ahead of them and challenge
them via the same process.

The first person or team to make it back to the “!” space (exact roll not needed) wins the game!

The Review

The components were eye-catching and
certainly on the colorful side.  The vast number of cards available and
the fact they are double-sided will help to prevent repeat questions from game
to game, though if you play it enough, I suppose it is all but inevitable.
Still, three-hundred cards with six questions each equals a lot of maths
(okay, okay, eighteen hundred questions)…that’s a pretty impressive number
compared to some other trivia games I’ve played in my day.  The rules were
easy to follow as well, making it easy to pick up and play.

The junior edition rule set was a nice touch.  The developer could have stopped at the inclusion of the
kid-friendly side of a card, but chose to go the extra mile by adding more
pawns and a different rule set.  Essentially, it’s the same idea as the
core game in that players will be trying to lap their pawn around the board.
However, the parent or teacher will always take on the role of the leader and
read the questions aloud.  Instead of blurting answers, each child writes
down what they think the answer is and those who are correct, move
forward.  Correct answers with correct spelling move four spaces, while a
correct answer with incorrect spelling moves three spaces.  There are also
no “challenges”, which is why more pawns can be used.

Likewise, some advanced rules exist
to make the core game a bit more challenging.  In the core game, players
are allowed to blurt answers without penalty.  In the “Hold That Thought”
variant, each player or team gets one blurt and one blurt only.  Those who
are wrong are eliminated for the rest of that round.  There’s also a “Name
That Word” variant that functions like “Name That Tune”.  When a six is
rolled, players bid by claiming that they can solve the clue in X number of
words.  The lowest bid takes the guess and are rewarded or penalized
accordingly, depending on their answer.

As detailed in the last two
paragraphs, this game is very flexible.  In theory, you could eliminate
the colored square challenge rule from the core game and play with six
players.  If you have extra pawns or other pieces lying around, you could
introduce even more players to the mix.  I also like the fact that the
reader can be given the choice to read either side of the card.  Parents
or teachers who are playing the game can read off the easy questions for the
benefit of the kids while the kids can read off of either side.  Creative
folks will undoubtedly create their own variants to suit their play group.

Thumbs up for trivia!

All in all, “Blurt!” is an excellent
educational party game for kids and adults alike.  It’ll test your trivia
knowledge a bit in addition to your vocabulary.  Its flexible nature makes
it suitable for players of almost any age.  The junior edition serves as a
better learning tool for younger kids in my opinion, as it gives each
participant time to think about their answer rather than rush to call out any
old word.  Deciding whether or not to add “Blurt!” to your collection of
family-friendly games is honestly a no-brainer…just do it.

Final Verdict: 9/10

You can learn more about and purchase “Blurt!” on sale for $24.99


The Effects Educational Toys Have on a Child’s Physical, Intellectual and Social Development

These days, we’re all living in an electronic age where technology rules. More and more children are engaging in computer and video games rather than going outside or picking up toys that don’t have a screen attached. It’s even come to the point where toddlers will scream and cry until their parents give them their smart phones to play with. It’s a habit (even an addiction, some might say) that is being formed in some of our children’s minds even before they can truly learn to form sentences.  As parents, it is important to find some sort of balance and to incorporate fun, educational toys and games into your child’s life from an early age.

The Effects Educational Toys Have on a Child’s Physical, Intellectual and Social DevelopmentChild development experts agree that it is vital that small children learn to play using their hands and their imagination. Preschoolers especially are like sponges when it comes to soaking up information, making the early stages of your child’s life the absolute best time to make sure that he or she is engaged with toys that cater to their wonder and curiosity.

There are many different types of educational toys, however, parents should always consider the age and their child’s best method of learning when choosing an educational toy. For example, infants and toddlers would not benefit from the same type of toy considering the fact that toddlers are more advanced. Infants tend to learn in sequences and repetitiveness methods, but toddlers need more stimulating toys.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, says, “Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being of children and youth.” In other words, children who physically and mentally play with toys that are more educationally-stimulating at each stage of their childhood are more likely to be well-rounded individuals. What’s even more, children who play with toys that challenge and spark imagination have also been found to be more motivated to learn, to read and to write.

Elite Toys carries a wide variety of educational toys for children of different ages and different interests. From our Science and Discovery toys and Early Learners and Preschool sets, to fun games and puzzles, we have plenty of products for children of all age ranges. At Elite Toys, you’ll have no trouble finding something perfectly suited to any child’s individual interests and developmental needs.


The Elite Toy Store Welcomes a Few New Calico Critter Families!


The Elite Toy Store is excited to add a few new Calico Critters families to its inventory very soon! The freshness and creative style of the Calico Critter family fits right in with the Elite Toy Store’s product line of modern and innovative children’s toys.

Elite Toys has made it fun and easy to introduce your kids to the families of the Calico Critters. Enjoy!

Say Hello to the Chocolate Labrador TripletsIntroducing the New Calico Critter Families to Elite Toy Store!

This adorable and energetic set of gorgeous chocolate Labrador triplets includes, Dylan, Helena and Piper Jane. Dylan is the perfect match for the child who loves to play, and jump around all day, as he is quite full of energy! Dylan loves eating his veggies and having bedtime stories read to him every night by Mother.

But Dylan has two sisters who also have their own funny ways and wonderful talents.

Helena is the singer of the group; she wakes up singing for her family. She will remind you of a happy-go-lucky child that loves to perform and entertain the family. Her singing is like an alarm clock for the household in the mornings.

Like Dylan, Helena eats all her veggies, but really loves fruit; Helena is also a very healthy eater.

Piper Jane is Dylan’s other sister and she is always happy and smiling for everyone. Other children love to spend time with her because she is always making them laugh. She loves to share a few laughs with her brothers and sisters and the world.


Meet the Outback Koala Family

Mom Sheila is a business owner. Her store sells things that help save the environment. She does this by selling organic items made from 100% recycled paper. When we reuse items, instead of throwing them in the trash, we can help the planet to reserve its resources. Sheila’s favorite hobby is gardening and she thoroughly enjoys growing vegetables for her own family.

Father Bruce is also very concerned about the environment and the future. He teaches kids how to recycle and care for the planet.

Sheila and Bruce are parents to two lovely children, Adelaide, (nicknamed Addie) and her brother Joey. Following in her parents’ footsteps, Addie wants to own her own business selling eco-friendly clothing when she grows up

Right now, her brother Joey is simply enjoying his mother’s piggyback rides, looking at trees and searching for birds. He is in love with nature and plays in the Adventure Treehouse with all of his friends.


Introducing the Furbanks Squirrel Family

The Furbanks Squirrel Family is simply fabulous! Mother Emma is a great actress, though very modest. Sometimes when she is practicing her lines for her acting roles, people think that she is talking to herself. It’s actually quite funny to the whole family.

Father Kenneth is also in show business; he loves acting as well as directing TV shows and films. One of Kenneth’s special gifts includes his big, booming voice – which is a great help on the set!

Their children are named Greta and Douglas. Douglas loves to spend time in his own imaginary world, while his sister is quiet and has her feet firmly planted in the “real world”. Greta loves to do her very best in whatever she does, especially when she practicing her acting. She wants to be a great actress, just like her Mother, Emma!


You too can join the world of the Calico Critter families, meet the parents, play with the kids and just like brother Douglas, begin to create your own imaginary world with the Calico Critters!