Parents have been searching for the perfect way to calm a raging tantrum since the beginning of time. Most kids can’t see past “right now,” and when things aren’t going the way that they want, their first reaction is to scream. Life can get pretty hectic, and giving our kids the tools to handle those moments and disappointments is really the only thing that we can do for them. We won’t be around forever, and teaching them how to deal with even the most strenuous moments is the best gift that we can give.
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence.
The first day, the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say “I’m sorry,” the wound is still there.”
The little boy then understood how powerful his words were. He looked up at his father and said “I hope you can forgive me father for the holes I put in you.”
“Of course I can,” said his father.
This is an older story, and I’d like to think that the little boy grew up to be a patient and loving dad to his own kid. I’d like to think that he was able to take this lesson and pass it on to his own child who might pass it on to others one day, too. We nail holes all day long whether we mean to or not. Recognizing that you can’t always take your words or actions (and sometimes even just your thoughts) back can have a lasting impression on who you become as a person. I love this story and I hope that more and more people can read it, too.
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