Jewish Family Service and Children's Center of Clifton-Passaic

Parent Support Page

Positive Discipline Dos and Don’ts


  • Praise behavior you like! Be specific, descriptive, enthusiastic and affectionate. Catch your child being good!
  • Ignore minor misbehavior. Ignoring minor misbehavior (that isn’t dangerous) can effectively extinguish that behavior.
  • Redirect and distract when your child begins to misbehave.
  • Be clear about directions. Give commands that are statements, not questions (and use the word please!)
  • Stay calm and cool so you don’t unintentionally reinforce behaviors by becoming overly emotional in response to them.
  • Model good behavior. Children learn by copying, so always ask yourself what you are teaching your child by your own behavior.


  • Spank or hit. This escalates bad behavior, models aggression, and instills fear in your child.
  • Attend to negative behavior by reprimanding and lecturing — it doesn’t work.
  • Repeat a command multiple times. It loses its power and teaches your child that he doesn’t have to listen the first time.

Remember, the trick is to catch good child behavior and to let him or her know how much you like it! Positive discipline makes a child feel safe and happy because it teaches what to expect and what is expected. Positive discipline builds a relationship based on respect and love.