Jill Duggar accused of controversial discipline technique

Jan 4, 2016 at 12:40 p.m. ET

Jill and Derick Dillard can’t seem to catch a break this holiday season. After coming under attack last week for the lack of babyproofing seen in the photos they post online, they are now getting a lot of heat for another photo they posted in their family photo album online.

In the photo, their son, Israel, is seen wrapped tightly in a blanket and appears to be very upset. Facebook user Duggar Family News: Life is not all pickles and hairspray first brought attention to the photo when she shared it on her Facebook page.

More: Jill Duggar's babyproofing for little Izzy comes under fire

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“More and more I have begun to question the judgement skills of Jill and Derick,” the Facebook page administrator writes, “What is going on in their heads to think that posting two photos of a bound up toddler screaming his head off is appropriate? This isn't even swaddling a newborn. Izzy looks to be about 6 or 7 months here.”

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While there doesn’t seem to be sufficient evidence that the Dillard family is participating in any form of child abuse, the picture has started a heated conversation about blanket training on the Duggar Family News Facebook page.

Blanket training is a discipline method made popular by Michael and Debi Pearl in their book To Train Up a Child. This book encourages a wide variety of discipline methods, including spanking with a rod and blanket training. Parents are instructed to place their infant child on a blanket and inflict pain with a rod anytime they venture off the blanket.

Why is blanket training stirring up so much controversy? This discipline method not only uses pain to train children into obedience — which has been shown by research to damage the long-term well-being of children — but it is also used as soon as the infant begins moving, sometimes as early as 7 months of age.

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While it is unclear whether Jill and Derick Dillard use this method, it wouldn’t be surprising if they do, since Michelle Duggar has admitted to using blanket training when asked about her discipline methods in the past. The methods promoted by Michael and Debi Pearl, and adopted by many fundamentalist Christian families like the Duggars, were believed to be linked to the deaths a multiple young children. We can only hope that young parents like Jill and Derick seek out alternative methods for disciplining their children that promote safety and connection over obedience at all costs.

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Image: Marijke Thoen

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