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.

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!

Can we get the “girl” in Girls Science? The future of our daughters.

The US is already behind the world in Math and Science test scores. Boys lead girls in the US by 2.5%. Can we get our daughters motivated into science? Is there a Girl Science?
How does it all start? New York just finished state exams for students…………… we should be relieved, but instead we are worried about the grades.   Did my son and daughter pass? Pass? We are not discussing the bar exam, we are talking about little kids. Last year, third graders had three hours over two days to complete 58 math items. This year they were given two hours and twenty minutes to answer 61 items. The ELA exams were not any easier. The students were given less time to complete the exams.
NYS believes that somehow this be the vital first stage in projecting whether they will be ready for college and employment tenGirls Science at EliteToyStore.com years from now. This was the first time the state exams are aligned with Common Core State Standards. It seems every year teachers are teaching according to the exams and then what? What happened to letting the students enjoy the material as they are being educated? Teachers have been challenged.  Everyone is stressed about the exams – do they have time to plan a fun activity in accordance to the
curriculum? I am just a parent and I try not to let my kids get stressed out about a grade, but it has become very difficult. My hats go off to all the educators that have found the balance – we thank you!

As a parent and a business owner I am always trying to find
a way to teach the children – without letting them know – they are actually
learning. We found a fantastic new line to try to get the girls motivated into
science. Science for girls can be challenging because- well you know, it can be
yucky! I love the new line! It really gets my daughter excited about science, and that is important. The line includes various science kits, microscopes, forensic lab materials, telescopes, and more. There is also a pet science line for cats, dogs and
birds. Check it out and send me an email with your thoughts: maria@EliteToyStore.com.
I would love to hear from you!

Berg ride-on pedal cars – The perfect way to raise awareness of Drunk Driving

We all know that being drunk and driving is a serious problem that can indiscriminately end young lives – whether that of the driver or the person they happen to hit. That is why it so important to raise awareness of the problem from a young age, so that our kids grow up knowing the dangers that come with being drunk and driving.

That’s where Elite Toy Store and Berg ride-on pedal cars come in. We facilitated the creation of a unique kids driving course, where children don a specialized pair of goggles that simulate the effects of alcohol intoxication. They then tried to make their way around the course, inevitably with much difficulty.

This is a unique approach to the task of raising awareness of drunk driving, but it is one that is being praised by all who have come across. The kids actually got to have fun in their Berg ride-on pedal cars, and the fact that being drunk and driving is extremely dangerous and wrong becomes ingrained in them naturally during the experience, as opposed to being forced upon them as information like this usually is.

Berg ride-on pedal cars were the ideal choice too. Besides the fact that they are readily available here at Elite Toy Store, they offer much more than just any old go-kart. Take our BERG Toys X-plorer XT Pedal Go Kart for example. It has a swing axle and genuine off-road tires that make the X-plorer XT ideal for rugged terrain, and comes complete with freewheel, double ball bearings and your own number plates.

The swing axle allows for stabilization on all terrain, while freewheel mode allows the pedals to remain static whilst the go-kart still moves – it automatically switches over to reverse when needed. On top of all that, most Berg ride-on pedal cars come with a selection of the following exciting features: a silver roll bar that makes the go-kart sturdier and safer, a comfortable sport seat and a front spoiler for aerodynamic purposes.

Berg ride-on pedal cars have been manufactured by Berg for over 40 years, and we highly endorse them for their safety, reliability and of course because they are so much fun. Without them our attempt to raise awareness of the dangers of being drunk and driving would not have been the same. Their maneuverability was suited perfectly to the kids driving course, as was their considerable size and sturdiness, simulating the effects of a real vehicle. After all, our Berg ride-on pedal cars are certified as being “commercial grade,” so you know that they are built to last.

Our DWI awareness program went off without hitch thanks to Berg and of course the local community, who were only too happy to help out and get involved. Designed by the Public Safety Department, the specialized kids driving course and equipment impressed everyone, especially the kids, who we hope took away some valuable life lessons from the experience. Remember, never ever drink and drive.

For more information on Berg ride-on pedal cars check out this dedicated section at EliteToyStore.com.

A Simple Way To Avoid The Problem of Childhood Obesity: Fun Activity Toys

The serious problem of childhood obesity was hitting the headlines again this week. It stemmed from a pronouncement by Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity expert at Children’s Hospital Boston which was supported by Lindsey Murtagh, a lawyer and researcher at Harvard’s School of Public Health. In today’s blog we’d like to inform you of these developments and show you, through the use of outdoor activity toys and other fun activity toys, how the problem of childhood obesity can be combated effectively.

 

In an editorial for the Journal of the American Medical Association, Ludwig and Murtagh stated that “State intervention may serve the best interests of many children with life-threatening obesity, comprising the only realistic way to control harmful behaviors.” In other words, should a family’s children grow to a significant level of obesity, child services should intervene and have them removed from their homes.

They continued: “In severe instances of childhood obesity, removal from the home may be justifiable from a legal standpoint because of imminent health risks and the parents’ chronic failure to address medical problems.”

It’s sad that we live in a society where such extreme measures are deemed appropriate and are advocated by leading experts in the field. The problem of childhood obesity is one that we need to get under control, but it pains us to think that state intervention is being seriously considered as a potential solution. Just as we stated in our post on video game violence, we do not think that families should be told how to live their lives by the state – on the whole it should be up to the parents how they wish to bring up their kids.

However, if parents are willing to allow their kids to get into such a state of obesity that their lives are quite literally under threat, should those parents be allowed to keep their children, knowing that they are slowly killing them by allowing them to continue living a grossly unhealthy lifestyle? Probably not, to be honest.

It should be noted that Ludwig and Murtagh aren’t talking about any regular obese child, but rather children with a severe issue. They are talking about those children that have a body mass index at or above the 99th percentile, a point where their health is at severe risk. But the unfortunate fact is that there are around two million children in the United States that fit within that group, and we can’t very well take them all from their homes can we?

Though we can’t hope to to solve this complex problem of childhood obesity, we would like to provide parents with some suggestions as to how they can get their kids active, and thus push them towards a healthier lifestyle.

Here at Elite Toy Store we have an entire range of educational and fun activity toys. These fun activity toys come in the form of indoor and outdoor kits and we have options suited to all budgets. Fun activity toys are proven to provide an impetus for your child to get exercising and having fun without be forced to do so.

If the problem of childhood obesity is a concern for you, then consider purchasing some outdoor activity toys. One of the most fun, time-tested ways to get kids (and big kids too!) exercising is on a trampoline. Bouncing around on a trampoline is a great way to get all of those important parts moving and on top of that it’s just so much fun to do. And when it come to outdoor activity toys, Elite Toy Store has lots to chose from, such as our Jumpking Bazoongi trampolines which are recognized as some of the safest and most innovative trampolines on the market in terms of design, so you can be sure that you are getting a tried and trusted product.

We all remember the joys of the playground and the jungle gym when we were kids and, even with the powerful influence of video games and the internet, kids today still can’t resist the allure of a good, well-equipped playground. Slides, swings, tunnels, see-saws – all these things make for exciting and fun outdoor activity toys that are sure to get your kids out and about and enjoying themselves. Check out Elite Toy Store’s full selection of outdoor activity toys today and cut out the problem of childhood obesity in your family before it starts!

 

Violent Video Games – A Parent’s Choice

This week a California video game censorship law was overturned in the Supreme Court. If the law had been allowed to stand it would have outlawed the sale or rental of violent video games to minors (anyone under the age of 18) in the state. Retailers who violated the act would have been fined up to $1,000 for each infraction. It covered games “in which the range of options available to a player includes killing, maiming, dismembering, or sexually assaulting an image of a human being,” depicted in a way that “a reasonable person, considering the game as a whole, would find appeals to a deviant or morbid interest of minors,” that is “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the community as to what is suitable for minors” and that “causes the game, as a whole, to lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.

However the proposed law was duly struck down by a 7-2 vote in the Supreme Court where it was deemed that the law would violate the First Amendment rights if minors. Justice Antonin Scalia conceded that “no doubt a state possesses legitimate power to protect children from harm,” but added “that does not include a free-floating power to restrict the ideas to which children may be exposed.” She pointed towards the inherent violence in many early fairy tales such as Hansel and Gretel and Snow White to support her decision. “Certainly the books we give children to read – or read to them when they are younger – contain no shortage of gore,” she said.

Though a precedent has now been set, effectively making it unconstitutional to restrict the sale of violent video games, it should be realized that there must have been a fair proportion of citizens in favor of the ban for it to garner so much attention in the first place. It is our opinion that this is a worrying trend. The federal or state government should not have the right to interfere in the relationship between child and parent, or to regulate it in like manner. Many of our constitutional rights are being whittled away under the guise of “protecting” us, but people, and especially parents, should be free to make their own decisions on what is best for them and their families.

Do we advocate violent video games in any way? Absolutely not. Gratuitous violence in video games aimed at children and young adults is unnecessary and upsetting, but most parents feel the same way and will regulate their kids playing of such games accordingly. And those that aren’t bothered by their kids playing such games – well that is their right to feel that way and it is their right to raise their kids as they see fit.

At this point the only argument that still stands is that the playing of violent video games can lead to kids becoming violent in real life. If such a thing were proven, then it would indeed result in a stronger case for the banning of such games in the manner the California law proposed. But here’s the thing: There is absolutely no solid evidence for any correlation between violent video games and violent behavior. As the respected folks at PBS report in a great article called “Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked,” the rate of juvenile violent crime in the United States is at a 30-year low. They also point out that “the overwhelming majority of kids who play [video games] do not commit antisocial acts.”

Crucially, according to a 2001 U.S. Surgeon General’s report, the strongest risk factors for school shootings centered on mental stability and the quality of home life, not media exposure. This proves that no measure of government intervention can ensure the safety of our kids in practical terms, and it is the quality of home life, not media exposure, that is essential. As a result we should be focusing on being better parents and ensuring that our children have the best possible upbringing, not looking to the state to tell us what to do.

To conclude, if kids are encouraged to engage with educational toys and games from a young age all of this controversy could be avoided. It is important that we strive to improve our children’s lives using the home as our base and making reliable informed decisions along the way, not relying on others to make those decisions for us.