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Friday, January 27, 2012

Quiet and Still: Teaching Self-Control

To instill self-control in her children--especially her energetic little boys--Michelle uses a process that she calls Quite and Still (similar to Blanket Training, but without the toy). From the time they are young, the mother of many teaches her kids to sit quietly and slowly increases the length of time.

"It's not waiting until they do something wrong to correct them, but actually taking moments to train them," explains Michelle in our July 2011 interview. She recommends starting with increments of five minutes. 

Here's how it works:

"I'll sit him in a chair, and I'll say, 'Okay, Mommy's going to sit beside you, and you're going to practice being still and quiet...yes ma'am?'...We may do that two or three times a day for about a week, and usually they catch it."

"What they're learning is self-control. (Click here for the Duggars' list of character qualities)...They're learning to obey Mommy's voice." One of Michelle's favorite mantras is "The first time I say it, you obey it."

"Then it can be transferred to when you're in the grocery store and they're sitting in the cart....They can learn to do that wherever they are because it's trained in their little hearts."

Michelle also stresses the importance of pouring out the praise. She and Jim Bob believe that one of the most vital parenting tips is to "praise your children ten times more than you correct them."

40 comments:

  1. I wondered how they implement the character qualities. Its one thing striving for them in older children, but helping the little ones to understand them is almost more important, because they grow up following them subconsciously.
    We would be grateful if you could continue posting more information about this.
    Amy-Louise T

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  2. Wonderful advice from Michelle. God bless x

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  3. Amen! Michelle is such a wise momma! I have tried many of her parenting tips with the kids I nanny and they work! I hope I can meet her someday :)

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  4. Her wisdom comes from above. Any mother that can control that many children with her loving voice is blessed from above. I admire Michele very much. I think the key here is love and praise...children should never be left to feel they are a burden or a trouble. If we teach them they are a joy, as Michele does, they will be more willing to please.

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  5. that sound like great advice! Thank you Michelle!

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  6. Thats a good idea. I'll have to try that.

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  7. Such a great mom. She seems to do everything with love. I admire her patience. She is a true role model.

    Sandy
    NY

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  8. great advice, I don't understand how she does it without having to raise her voice.I wonder if she ever do raise her voice though, and what happens when they don't listen? In any event, I admire Michelle and the way she is with her family. I use some of her tactics with my own children, sometimes they work, sometimes they don't because I am not consistent..So maybe I'll get better in the future, lol

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  9. Hi Lilla (love your name!),

    Michelle starts "quiet and still" training with her children as early as possible. For little ones, the starting time might be reduced to one or two minutes. Each child responds differently.

    Hope this helps!
    Lily and Ellie

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  10. I was just wondering how do you work that w/children that are much older & had a harder early childhood. I have 3 girls that I adopted at different ages & where the one that I have had since 3 months old I have no trouble really to get her to do as I say. now her lil sister 4 & bigger sister 8 it's much harder especially w/4 yr old's FAS & Sensory Processing Deficit problems. Do you have any ideas of how to reach them w/out having to raise my voice as I see you do time & time again!? I have seen such a great amount of change from them both but have a lot of work to do to get there!
    I would love some transitional times ideas due to her slight OCD it's the worse meltdown time for her!?! you guys are such amazing parents & I see the love in all of your family! God Bless You all for showing the world that it CAN be done!

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  11. Does anyone know what the blanket technique actually is?

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  12. Whats a blanket technique?

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  13. @Anonymous

    Hi Anonymous 13 and 14,

    Starting when her children are toddlers, Michelle teaches them to play quietly with a toy for short periods of time, often while sitting on a blanket. Blanket training teaches small children to exercise self-control in any situation (with or without a blanket).

    Hope this answers your question:)
    Lily and Ellie

    ~Lily and Ellie

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  14. So if the child (say he's 20 months old) wants to get up from the blanket, or chair, what should a mom do then? Should she tell him uh uh sit back down please.. this is still and quiet time?

    We have quiet time in our house, usually as my youngest is nappy, and my 4 year old is sitting being quiet either doing school work on the computer (we plan to homeschool) or reading a book (not really reading but he likes to pretend) or playing with a toy quietly, he's great at this. Taught him to play quietly by himself and be content at an early age. My youngest is a bit more strong willed.. If I "made" him sit there he would have a temper tantrum, I guess my question is for Michelle if she ever reads these, is what would I do to keep my child there (when he is a Strong Willed child)? Thanks!

    This blog is great, I love reading it.

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  15. "So if the child (say he's 20 months old) wants to get up from the blanket, or chair, what should a mom do then?"
    she smacks them with a ruler. truth.

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  16. Yes, true! She smacks them with a ruler, etc. The truth is, the children are too scared to move.

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  17. Are you really supposed to smack them if they get up or whine? Because I would like to teach self control but don't want to hit my children. I feel that hitting is the opposite of showing self control.

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  18. Lily and Ellie, I hope you come back to answer this because I'm fairly sure the children aren't hit with a ruler! On the episode last night that I watched, JB mentioned Jessa was a strong-willed child growing up. :)

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  19. I am not sure how the commenters would know that, especially not being there in the Duggar home when it happens, but from reading the front page of the blog, it sounds like they reward good behavior more often than showing any kind of harshness. I would assume, they just sit them back down and encourage the toy/toys and she did say a short time, so maybe like 5-10 minutes..... I think it's a great idea!

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  20. Hi guys, about the blanket training. It does involve smacking with a ruler but it is not harsh like it sounds. I am familiar with blanket training and it is what the Duggars use because before they were famous Michelle was part of an online forum that discussed blanket training. Basically you get one of those flexible rulers and you sit them on the blanket with a toy. If they try to get off the blanket then you give them a little smack, it isn't even as hard a smack, just enough to get attention. It takes time for them to understand it, it won't happen over night. But at such a young age they don't know what 'no' means so its like giving them a little pinch and eventually they realize "if I get off blanket= pinch" "staying still = no pinch." It probably sounds harsh to some but it really isn't bad or anything. I know some are fully against it but the truth is that a little flick of a ruler won't hurt them. And yes the Duggars are all for praising more than punishing, this is just something they use to curb their kids behavior before they know what words mean.

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  21. Just want to put it out there that training a child is the same as training any animal: consistency, consistency, consistency--ever wonder why people who are thinking of having a child are encouraged to get a puppy first?

    As for the Blanket Training requiring the use of a ruler, that's a bit barbaric, unnecessary, and just a sign of laziness on the part of the parent. But I can see the value of encouraging a child to stay on a blanket and play quietly with a toy, but without pushing the issue if that's not their interest.

    I think it's horrible when I'm out people-watching and I see parents with HAPPY children decide to take a photo when the kid doesn't want to sit still. Within 2 minutes you have total chaos and usually harsh words are said simply to indulge the parent's desires. I'm all for discipline when children are behaving badly, but purposefully causing a conflict is terrible! Of course, the "Mother of Methodism" did tell her sons that the first goal of motherhood is to break the will of the child...

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  22. I'm appalled that Anonymous compared children to 'any animal' Children are not puppies they are human beings and should be treated as such.

    Hitting a child with a ruler is harsh. How would you like it if I came up to you and smacked you with a ruler every time you tried to get up? I'm sure you wouldn't like it too much either. Kids have a natural curiosity and an urge to rebel at times. Any method that removes that from their character takes away their GOD given right to exert their own free will.

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  23. Yes, the LORD has given us all a free will, but let us not forget that it is God's requirement that children obey their parents, and parents are admonished to train their children to obey. Although I myself would not begin demanding obedience at 6 months of age, a 10 month old is perfectly capable of understanding such a simple request. The earlier you can work on the child's will the better. Believe me, I started way too late with my first son, and it back fired in the end. Thankfully, after much training, he is a happy kid today!

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  24. Teaching is not the same as abusing. I hardly see the big deal about the ruler thing, you're not scaring the kid or hurting them, they would start screaming their heads off if it hurt. It's totally normal to gently nudge and poke little kids because they don't fully understand words or what is expected yet, and it doesn't sound like what they do with the ruler is all that much different. It's just part of natural child-rearing, all animals do it. I don't believe in hitting as a form of punishment or hurting a child either physically or emotionally in any way, it's unnecessary and cruel, but my goodness these days people make such a big deal over physically interacting with kids in any way that's not completely without any form of direction. Where's the balance in that? If your kid was running out in the middle of the street you wouldn't just let them exert their own free will, you would pick them up and force them to go your way instead because you understand more than they do about traffic. Likewise Michelle knows more than her toddlers do about learning patience and self-control and why it will benefit them later in life.

    In response to: "How would you like it if I came up to you and smacked you with a ruler every time you tried to get up?"

    This always seems so silly to me. There's a lot of things we do to children we wouldn't do to adults, like feed them and change their diaper. Children need to be protected and helped by adults because they are not yet developed enough to understand the world around them, and part of our responsibility as parents is to teach them what is expected in a way that they can comprehend. Now if you tried to nudge a ten-year-old to get them to do what you wanted you would probably just make them angry, and for good reason, you should respect the knowledge and understanding they have acquired by using words instead. That's exactly what the Duggars do as far as we can tell.

    Don't make mountains out of molehills. Just because someone has a different parenting style than you does not mean they are abusive or damaging their children. We all make mistakes as parents and people always grow up with emotional struggles regardless of what their parents do or don't do, all we know for sure is that everyone must find the method that works for them and makes for happy kids that bring joy to themselves and others. Screaming abuse at anyone whose way is different is a detriment to the children of the world who really are being abused and need help.

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    1. I completely agree we have completely blown spanking out of proportion. Disapline and abuse are 2 totally different things. The biggest thing in disapline is constantly doing the same thing. AKA if back talking isn't allowed today then it needs to not be allowed tomorrow.

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  25. How can you say there are things we do for/to children that we don't do for adults like diaper changes and feeding them? Have you forgotten we help our babies eat and change because they are incapable? When adults become incapable of these luxuries, we help them, too. People in poor health, people who have been in terrible accidents, people who suffer from severe retardation, and the elderly (to name a few) need help with these things, and so they get that help.

    Children deserve respect! If not even more so than adults, because children are still new and learning. If you wouldn't want to be smacked (no matter how soft or hard), then don't smack others, *especially* little ones. God has made babies and children so incredibly smart, and they learn amazingly fast. They can learn without fear or pain (no matter how much).

    Be gentle, patient, and diligently teach!

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  26. The decision to spank or not to spank is settled in the book the Duggars use to raise their children: The Bible. (Proverbs 13:24, 19:18, 22:15, 23:13-14, 29:15) Spanking administered in love is very different than child abuse. There are numerous verses about raising godly children. Thus the thought behind the blanket training (I have not used this method but understand the concept) is that children learn self control. As a public school teacher I can attest to the fact that self control is lacking in American children today. We have all seen or been affected by it in the news (children on shooting rampages against family or others) and even just temper tantrums in a store or church. As parents our goal is to raise godly children who seek to please God and leave the safety of the home. Children who learn to obey early may avoid dangers as teens and adults. Does this produce perfect children/people.. of course not. It does prepare a child to obey God. As my guess is that most people who come to this site and read this blog claim some form of Christianity, that is what we want for our children. Psalm 1

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  27. @Leah RyonHi Leah, I share your view.

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  28. @MeganHi Megan, Actually Ruth Graham herself said nearly the same thing about training children. The Bible does say, 'train up a child in the way they should go and when they are older they will not depart from it'. I don't know how I feel about the ruler thing. When I was raising my children I always related to the way a mother cat would let her kittens know they were not behaving, and that was always with a swat... not to hurt, but it gets the message across.

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  29. @BreaHi Brea, I liked your reply.

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  30. @Caleigh BarrettHi Caleigh, Well stated. All the guidance we need is in the Bible, and that is what the Duggars follow. To 'spare the rod, spoils the child', and leaves them without proper guidance. Of course as you have stated, the discipline must be administered not in anger, but in love. Too many people make the mistake of not first understanding God's commands. If they did, they would accept what is necessary, and know how to administer it. 'for even God disciplines His children because He loves them'.

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  31. Smacking babies with a ruler is not teaching them self-control, it is teaching them fear. Catering to their animalistic response to avoid pain is simply teaching them to learn to avoid pain; rather than teaching self - control, it teaches that others (parents, adults, etc) are in control. Which is what this is all about, right?

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  32. This whole blanket training creeps me out. Children are curious by nature .. to sit them in one place and hit them with a ruler to me seems more like instilling fear rather than self control. Should children obey their parents? Yes - but I feel children should be able to explore, learn limits and safety in exploration by the guidance of the parent, not by the whack of a ruler. I can't imagine what it would feel like as an adult to sit down, be asked not to move and poked or whacked with a ruler if I did. Just saying...

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  33. If you really love someone, you should never punish them in a physical way. If you didn't think that your husband/wife was showing enough self control, would you smack them to teach them self discipline? No, you wouldn't because that is not acceptable and since babies and children are smaller and more innocent than adults, they shouldn't be smacked either. There are many ways to discipline children and teach obedience without physical punishments.

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  34. @Anonymous

    "Spare the rod, spoil the child" is NOT in the bible. It is a quote from a poem by Samuel Butler.

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  35. Think of blanket training like this.....we don't want out babies to wander around unwatched, so we place them in portacribs or playpens (little jails as we jokingly call them). Parents that blanket train do similar but without the sides. A nudge to remind the toddler to stay in the one area isn't going to hurt them, it's not like they are being Gibb's smacked to stay still. It's a gentle reminder that you were told to do something. And I'm sorry but 12-18 month olds do know what the word NO is if you have used it.

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  36. @Anonymous

    "Spare the rod, spoil the child" is in the scriptures. Proverbs 13:24 says, "Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them."

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  37. I think it is ridiculous to expect and infant, or toddler, to "stay still" on a blanket for any great length of time. Their little brains are learning, growing, and they have natural curiosity. Look further into developmental stages of infants and toddlers. This "blanket training" is so disturbing to me in every way. I am all for keeping an infant and toddler safe, protecting them from harm, teaching them with love and caring ways. Blanket training seems way to much like teaching fear to an innocent baby. Just my opinion.

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