‘Counting On’: What is Blanket Training and Does the Duggar family use it?

It should come as no surprise that the Duggar family has some controversial views on family life and raising children. One of the most contentious parenting methods attributed to the family, however, is blanket training. The controversial disciplinary tactic is allegedly used by many ultra-conservative Christian families to teach children obedience from a young age. While the Duggar family has never outright said they use the method, many believe it was very much a part of family life. Now some fans believe many of the Duggar kids are using the same tactic on their own children. So, what exactly is it?

What is blanket training?

Blanket training is a disciplinary method promoted by Michael and Debi Pearl in their book To Train Up a Child. The technique advises parents to place their baby on a blanket in the middle of a room. When the child moves to leave the blanket, parents are instructed to hit the child with a flexible ruler or another similar object.

The training begins when the child is just a baby. Allegedly, it is used to teach obedience from a young age. Essentially, the Pearls claim the method teaches children about consequences for disobedience, and, over time, instills the value of compliance in young children.

The Duggar family specifically asks suitors about their thoughts on corporal punishment

Before a young man can court a Duggar daughter, there is a test. The lovestruck suitor must answer over 400 questions about himself before being given access to the Duggar of his dreams. The lengthy questionnaire specifically asks about the suitor’s thoughts on corporal punishment.

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar
Michelle (L) and Jim Bob Duggar | Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

In short, corporal punishment is the use of physical violence as punishment when children misbehave. The American Psychological Association notes that corporal punishment is both inhuman and mostly ineffective. In fact, research has shown that corporal punishment is counterproductive.

The Duggars have not outwardly promoted corporal punishment, but the inclusion of the question on the courtship test has led many to believe its an important part of their family’s culture. The family has also allegedly attended several seminars that promote blanket training and other forms of corporal punishment.

Fans think Jill and Derick use the controversial method

Jill Duggar and her husband, Derick Dillard are believed to use the parenting tactic on their two children. The couple received criticism in 2015 after posting a photo of their infant wrapped tightly in a blanket. In the now-deleted photo Israel, then an infant looks incredibly distressed, according to In Touch.

View this post on Instagram

❤️ @derickdillard

A post shared by Jill Dillard (@jillmdillard) on

Fans strongly suspected that the swaddling was another form of blanket training, but neither Jill nor Derick have ever commented on the photo. Many fans also believe that Joy-Anna Duggar and her husband Austin Forsyth subscribe to the controversial practice, too.

Michael and Debi Pearl have appeared at Fort Rock Family Camp on multiple occasions. During their seminars, they promote the use of blanket training. Fort Rock Family Camp is owned by Austin’s family. Both Austin and Joy-Anna work at the camp during its peak season.