What is blanket training – the controversial ‘discipline’ technique for babies
What is blanket training? This parenting trend is causing a stir, as it suggests that babies as young as nine-months-old can be trained using methods similar to training a puppy.
Everyone has different ideas on discipline and guiding children’s behaviours, but few people think it should start before the child is at least a year old.
One controversial parenting trend is causing a stir, as it suggests that babies as young as nine-months-old can be trained using methods similar to training a puppy. It is called blanket training.
Children psychologist, Dr. Sasha Lynn, has offered her opinion on the interesting technique and believes that while children thrive on consistency and boundaries she says “to try and enforce discipline before they’re cognitively ready and able to comprehend can cause undue stress for parents and children alike”.
Blanket training is a method that originated from the controversial parenting book To Train Up A Child, published in 1994 and written by Christian Fundamentalists, Michael and Debi Pearl. Traditionally, it was called The Pearl Technique which required a baby to be corporeally punished if it crawled outside of a designated area.
The overall reasoning for adopting blanket time is to teach boundaries. Many parents claim that their children have been able to adopt the self-control they have learnt in the home context and apply it to public spaces like doctor’s offices and crowds. Other parents find they are able to get jobs done knowing their children are situated for a certain period of time.
An updated version known as blanket time has been promoted in popular parenting books such as BabyWise and by reality TV family, The Duggars.
“It’s not waiting until they do something wrong to correct them, but actually taking moments to train them,” Michelle Duggar said in a 2011 interview. “What they’re learning is self-control ... They’re learning to obey Mummy’s voice.”
The modern version replaces the punishment aspect and uses a rewards system instead.
Blanket time is now generally seen as an allocated amount of time during the day where an infant is required to remain on a blanket or play mat for a limited period of time, with a few selected toys. Many of those doing it have voiced online that they start by doing five minutes a day and build up the intervals overtime, with some extending it to 30 minutes or more on days that they can.
It appears that when to start doing it is a personal preference with bloggers and forums suggesting sometime around the age of one.
Collective tips for implementing the discipline method include using toys they don’t always have access to, visual timer aids for older children as well as snacks or treats.
Dr. Sasha Lynn is concerned that this method does not help children to understand the 'why' factor.
“Blanket training appears to be more a classical conditioning exercise- and the danger in that is that children actually don’t understand the why, they just understand the what," she told Kidspot.
"They understand they must sit on a blanket and not move, but they don’t understand the purpose behind it.
"Teaching boundaries is all about helping your child to understand why. Most of the time when children are at a level that they understand why they shouldn’t do something/should do something else, then it really helps them understand their behaviour and make more helpful choices”.
Like many choices parents make, Dr. Sasha Lynn suggests to focus on what works for parents and individual families.
“Blanket training isn’t something that I would put out there as a psychologist, but it’s about what works for parents.
"As long as the child is safe, supported, happy and can understand why, then it’s for the parents to look at the purpose behind what method they wish to utilise and what works for them.
"We just need to look at why we’re doing something with our children- what benefit will it provide them?”
This article was republished with permission from Kidspot.