Blanket Training and Punishment

Blanket Training or Blanket Time (a “playpen in a purse”) is a process of disciplining children, training them to remain on a blanket. It is advanced in Evangelical Christian circles and claims to teach religious values to young children as a form of discipline. The following video discusses the positive reinforcement side of this technique taught by the Ezzo's BabyWise, the writings of Michael Pearl (an Independent Fundamental Baptist - IFB), and Bill Gothard's support groups for homeschooling mothers. The first part of the process involves scaring an infant and punishment when the positive reinforcement fails. The Duggar Family admits to the use of blanket time in their books and on their show --  a type of confinement, but details are not discussed publicly. Children admitted to police when questioned in the 2006 molestation report investigation that their parents “had a rod” and spanked all of their children.

Stage One: While an infant is not yet mobile, at some point every day, the mother places the child on a small blanket on the floor. She takes a paint stick or wooden spoon and puts on a noisy, histrionic display around the whole perimeter of the blanket, beating the floor with the implement.

Stage Two: When the child becomes mobile, though parents may well use positive reinforcement to train the child to remain on the blanket, the parent takes the implement that they used to pound the floor when the child was younger and “swats” the child with that implement. They consistently repeat this process, and they increase the stimulus for the child to crawl off the blanket over time. The parent moves from beckoning the child to come to them to tempting them with treats. They then consistently follow with the physical punishment until the child learns never to get off of that blanket. Many parents use this to reinforce and prepare their children for “First Time Obedience” (single trial learning – no reapeated mistakes).

Belief: These belief systems teach that God punishes disobedience of parents, and this continues for adults. Disobeying one's direct authority results in God's direct retribution for failing to submit to the confines which their position, level of authority, gender, or desire of their superior authority. It is believed that blanket training teaches this principle to young children in the hope that they will learn not to sin through obedience.

Criticism: The technique is said to render more benefit to and convenience for the parent than it does benefit to the child. It is thought to create confusion for the child, destroy trust in the parent, and flatten the development of critical thought.

  • Blanket Training is About Adults, Not About Children, Homeschooler's Anonymous May 2015  This well-written piece has many links to many examples demonstrating how widespread this technique has become within Christian homeschooling circles associated with both Bill Gothard and Michael Pearl.
  • On the Periphery of ATI (Giselle's Story), Homeschooler's Anonymous Jan 2014  Offers a detailed description that is very similar to what I observed in my decade or so around homeschoolers who followed Gothard, though very few were a part of the ATI program.





Michael Pearl, an Independent Fundamental Baptist Minister, teaches a particular method of   “child training” – the King James Version of the Bible's term for discipline which is, frankly, code language for an aggressive program of corporal punishment. While the technique does stress consistency and appeals to parental duty to children, it stresses the moral imperative of breaking a child's will. Three deaths have been directly linked to Pearl's method and reported in the press, and all decedents were adoptees.
  • One death resulted from swaddling and binding of four year old Sean Paddock, though Pearl claims that he only recommends such for infants. 
  • Pearl advocates the beating of children with plumbing supply line which causes deep tissue damage without leaving bruises. The technique has lead to acute kidney failure and death (Schatz Family) because of the excessive amount of free-floating muscle tissue in the bloodstream. (Pearl's response) 
  • Hosing down of children in cold weather is recommended as a discipline for incontinence of stool (To Train Up A Child, pg 75, 17th ed). Hana-Grace Williams who was also badly beaten per Pearl's technique died while outdoors in the cold, suffering from hypothermia. When emergency services asked why they believed the child to have “killed herself,” the mother first responded by saying that the child was “rebellious.” (Pearl's response) Reports about the Schatz Family and other Religious Chlid Maltreatment

Essential Information (with more extensive information about Lydia Schatz and