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How do the Duggars discipline 17 kids?

It's no secret that Jim Bob and Michelle are a busy duo — so how do they manage the needs of such a large family? Here, the couple explain how to gussy up vegetables for picky eaters, offer a money-saving home recipe and more.
/ Source: TODAY staff

It's no secret that Jim Bob and Michelle are a busy duo — so how do they manage the needs of such a large family? Here, the couple answer reader questions about how to handle picky eaters, reduce paper product costs and more.

Q: How do you serve your meals? Is it buffet style? Also, what do you do with picky eaters? — Bernadette Slater, Elko, Nev.

Michelle: We serve our meals buffet-style. We've got so many little guys, so this works very well for us. Picky eaters … there's not much of an option [for them]. We try to make things that we know the majority will eat. I'm not hard about that kind of thing. I tend to blend up my veggies so they don’t even know they're there.

Jim Bob: Or dip them in something [like] ranch dressing!

Michelle: We eat a lot of salads and broccoli. They call broccoli "green trees." Also, the Duggars love pickles. They'll take a can of green beans, spray them with vinegar, then put salt on them.

Jim Bob: Green french fries. We encourage them to eat stuff at least once, and they usually acquire a taste.

Q: How do you discipline all the younger children? Especially the 2- to 4-year-olds. —Wendi Lyons, Mount Laurel, N.J.

Michelle: 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.

I've literally whispered, calmed myself, spoken softly to my children, so they are learning by my example to have a light response.

Q: I cannot fathom how much toilet paper your household uses. Do you buy a generic low-end brand or a more expensive brand when purchasing toilet paper, Kleenex, paper towels? — Laura Sudderth, Marysville, Calif.

Jim Bob: We buy it in bulk. We go to Sam's Club and buy their industrial brand of toilet paper … 48 rolls in a case.

Michelle: A case lasts a couple of weeks ... we have nine bathrooms. We also make our own wet wipes. It costs about 45 cents a container. I also do the same thing with water and Lysol for scrubbing and wiping. Some rolls are thicker than others, so you might have to use more water. Just add more if needed.

Homemade baby wipes
From the forthcoming “The Duggars: 20 and Counting”

Our friends Gil and Kelly Bates, now the parents of 16 children, shared this recipe with us years ago.

One roll of Bounty paper towelsOne-gallon ice-cream bucket, clean and emptyTwo cups waterTwo tablespoons baby oilOne tablespoon rubbing alcoholOne tablespoon baby bath (optional)

  • Cut a whole roll of Bounty paper towels into thirds. (We've found that Bounty is the only brand that works. Use an electric knife for best results.)

  • Place one of the halved rolls vertically into an empty and thoroughly cleaned one-gallon ice cream bucket. In a large measuring pitcher, mix two cups water, two tablespoons baby oil, and one tablespoon rubbing alcohol. (Some families also like to add a tablespoon of baby bath.)

  • Pour the liquid over the halved roll of paper towels in the ice cream bucket, and soak for 30 minutes. Remove the cardboard center. Feed the top corner of the paper towels through an X-shaped slit you've cut in the lid of the ice-cream bucket so you can pull out and tear off one "wipe" at a time.

Visit for more tips like these, or for more info on the family. Michelle and Jim Bob’s book, “The Duggars: 20 and Counting,” is out now on Howard Books. Their show “17 Kids and Counting” airs on TLC on Mondays at 10 p.m. EST.
parenting tips| disciplining children