While the Duggar family may be best known for their faith and strict rules about romantic relationships, the clan has also made headlines for their questionable parenting styles. On several occasions, the Duggar tykes have been seen riding their bikes without wearing helmets, and in 2014, Josh and Anna Duggar took a photo in which two of their young kids were touching a soldier's gun.
Though raising 19 children can't be easy, matriarch Michelle tries her best to stay clam when it comes to discipline. "The goal in our home is to praise our children 10 times more than we correct them. When we learn how to praise good character in our children, it builds good character. The positive reinforcement is what builds up their self-worth," she shared. "I've literally whispered, calmed myself, spoken softly to my children, so they are learning by my example to have a light response."
However, the clan has also been accused of child abuse more than once. Most recently, fans slammed the family for attending Fort Rock Family Camp, a retreat where controversial pastor Michael Pearl and his wife Debi hold seminars. Many fans see the pair as abusers, as in their book To Train Up a Child — Child Training for the 21st Century, they promote using forms of corporal punishment on children that are less than a year old. Keep scrolling to learn more about how the Duggars raise their kids.
They focus on the positive.
Jim Bob and Michelle believe praising their children for being kind is the best way to keep poor behavior at bay. "We've really chosen to focus on praising our kids for good character, for Godly character. And as we do that, we find that we have a lot less trouble with correction when we are constantly looking for ways to praise them. When we see them do a kind deed we praise them publicly. We always say, 'You deserve praise,'" Michelle explained. "And by doing that I think it really sets a tone in your home of peace and harmony and a joyful place to live — it really is a happy place to be."
"To be able to stand alone when tough things come their way and know in their heart, 'You know, that's not right. I don't want to partake in that because I can see the destruction that'll come.' So when the home is the center of their worth as far as them being strengthened and edified and encouraged, they know they can go out and do anything set in front of them and do great things for God. That's our goal," Michelle added.
They teach self-control.
When Michelle can sense that one of the kids is about to act out, "I try to get them to practice self-control and sit and have quiet time, and for me, that's what I call 'time out,'" she said. "It's not for correction, because I learned early on from a book that I read, The Heart of Anger, the sorts of things kids are struggling with in their heart, and I remember thinking, 'I don't want my children to feel angry. I want them to feel like I'm there for them.' So I give them constructive things to do with their energy, and to learn to practice self-control.
"The idea is that they think, 'Wow, I feel good about myself now. I've obeyed Mommy. I've sat here for 15 minutes, read this book, calmed down, didn't have to get in trouble, but actually sat and looked at a book for 15 minutes. And now I can get up and go do something else.'"
How do they deal with meltdowns?
"There are the times when my little ones will throw a fit — lie out on the floor and try to express their emotions that way — and they quickly learn they don't get whatever it is they're throwing a fit for. They're not going to get the expected outcome," Michelle shared. "Whatever it is they're throwing a fit for, number one, I never give it to them. It goes up or it gets put away, or they have to learn to wait and talk patiently and politely with me. This is what I expect, and I have to train them."
"Otherwise kids don't know what we expect from them. Sometimes we think they know, but we haven't said, 'If you want this, this is how you ask. This is what Mommy expects.' So if they're laid out on the floor, throwing a fit, a meltdown, whatever you want to call it, I just quickly get down on the floor with them," Michelle explained.
Do they spank their kids?
None of the Duggars have ever spanked their children — at least, not in front of the camera. Instead, Michelle sits the child down for a talk if they act inappropriately. "You praise someone publicly, but if you're going to have to correct someone, you correct them privately. You take them aside and talk to them privately so that you don't humiliate them in front of people," she explained. "So in training the little guys, day in and day out, if I see the little ones not being kind to each other, I will take them aside and I will deal with them and talk to them and have them work this out amongst themselves and learn to communicate and be kind to each other."
What is "blanket training" and who uses it?
Jill Duggar and husband Derick Dillard came under fire when they posted and then deleted a photo of their son Israel crying while wrapped up tightly in a blanket. Fans suspected that what was pictured may have been a form of blanket training, a discipline method that is encouraged by the Pearls. In blanket training, the parent places the baby on a blanket, and when the infant moves off of it, they are to be hit with a flexible ruler or similar object, which supposedly teaches them obedience.
Jessa is adopting her own rules.
Despite much of her family following in her parents' footsteps, Jessa and husband Ben Seewald have stated that they'll raise their kids how they best see fit. "I’m sure that as he continues to grow, I will find that I tend to do some things differently than my mom did. That’s the beauty of the individual family. No one is identical," she told
Us Weekly of raising now 2-year-old son Spurgeon. "There will be variations with little things here and there, but I know that our foundational goals remain the same — to raise our kids to love God and be a blessing to others."
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