SCOTCH PLAINS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The Elf on the Shelf is on the move – with elves checking on your kids to see if they’ve been naughty or nice.

As CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported Tuesday night, the elf appears in homes each holiday season and acts as Santa Claus’ spy to make sure children are behaving.

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Madison McKenna, 4, of Scotch Plains, New Jersey, has been on her very best behavior lately because she knows her Elf on the Shelf is watching.

With the help of Madison’s mother, Jennifer McKenna, the elf moves each night and appears in a different spot every morning until Christmas.

“She’s aware,” McKenna said. “She knows that her behavior is important, and she looks forward to seeing where he is.”

The elf is used as an incentive for parents to get their kids to behave, and Jennifer McKenna said it works.

“Like, if she starts to have a little bit of a tantrum, you know — we can sometimes reverse it by saying, ‘Remember who’s watching,’” McKenna said.

But is the Elf on the Shelf really a good way to get your child to behave? Psychotherapist Talia Filippelli said yes, indeed it can be.

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“It is good to sort of initiate a child learning how to be reflective of what they’re doing and how well they’re listening.” Filippelli said.

But she warned against using the elf as a scare tactic to force your kids into behaving.

“I think some parents end up using Elf on a Shelf as a discipline technique, where they’ll say, ‘You better put your shoes on — the elf is watching,’ and it’s not really meant for that,” Filippelli said.

Filippelli encouraged parents to find a way to implement a similar concept year-round, not just when the elf is around.

For her part, Madison said she is good every year and gets “a million” presents.

And most of all, experts said you should have fun with your child, getting into the Christmas spirit.

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