Behavior Management


When working with families, here are a few ways to help parents address problematic behavior from their children. These tips can be helpful ways of using selective attention and positive discipline to build strong and loving family relationships.

Preventing Misbehavior

  • Make sure expectations of the child are developmentally reasonable
  • Offer choices of acceptable behaviors
  • Distract child before misbehavior occurs
  • Ignore inappropriate behavior and praise positive behavior

Positive Discipline Strategies

  • Labeled praise—be sure to tell the child what he/she did right
  • Tangible rewards (e.g., chocolate, stickers)
  • Physical rewards (e.g., hugs and kisses)
  • Activity rewards (e.g., play time)
  • Selective attention (parents decide how and when to pay attention to child).
  • Pay attention to desired behaviors and ignore behaviors you want to discourage.

Using Praise Effectively video

Effective Ignoring

  • No eye contact, gestures, facial expressions, talking, or physical contact.
  • Never ignore unsafe behaviors.
  • Use in conjunction with positive attention for desired behaviors

Inadvertent Selective Attention video example 

Problems with Spanking

  • Pain can make children more aggressive
  • Potentially leads to fear of parent
  • Child learns to avoid punishment, but doesn’t learn new or “right” behavior
  • Child learns to use physical violence to influence others
  • Spanking is often used in anger, and can become more harsh than parent intends.
Watch the video below to learn some more ways to discuss parenting discipline strategies with families


National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800) 422-4453

Maryland Child Protective Services (410) 767-7112