Matthew Warner

The Slate of Shame

Since we don’t spank our 4- and 6-year-old boys, Deena and I resort to psychological methods of discipline. And no, CARRIE fans, we’re not locking them in closets with gory crucifixes.


The dry erase board on our refrigerator, or The Slate of Shame, has proven especially powerful in correcting behaviors such as potty word usage. While the potty-incident chart pictured above was in effect, we rewarded our kids with a small toy every time they reached a multiple of 7.

Concurrently, in the lower corner is the strike board. An especially egregious offense, such as abusing a brother or pet, earns a strike, symbolized by a hash mark. Three strikes, and you’re out. Reaching three strikes might mean going to bed way early or losing TV, iPad, or dessert privileges for the next day. But usually just a single strike and a stern word is enough to reduce a boy to tears and cause the behavior to stop.

I bring all this up because I take satisfaction each night in the act of wiping the numbers away. After the boys go to bed, I wipe the strike board clean. I wipe away the numbers we’ve used to track their daily allowance of TV and device time. I’ve literally given them a clean slate.

How cool would it be if adult life were like that? To wake up every morning and give yourself permission to start over. To say, “It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday. I’m sorry for my moments of anger and selfishness, but I don’t have to act that way today. Those petty offenses are in the past. Today is a brand new chance to do things right.”

You know what? It doesn’t matter if I don’t have a daddy to wipe my board clean. I’m gonna do it anyway.

One Response

  1. I love it. Great idea! And the cool thing is, this is what God does for us over and over again. Unconditional love and forgiveness. Each day a clean slate!