Nails In The Fence

I read this little story some years ago and came across it recently. It’s one of those life lessons that bear repeating.

Nail Holes
Nails In The Fence
Author Unknown

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, my 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.”

40 thoughts on “Nails In The Fence

  1. Helen Devries

    I wasn’t a bad tempered child…I had been taught how to behave….but my father said to me that if anything upset me, then talk to him about it as it could have had a reasonable foundation and if not then he could show me the difference.
    He was far from being the modern parent but he taught me a lot about the necessity of self control.


  2. Ann Coleman

    I love that story! And such a good lesson, especially these days when it’s so easy to give in to what we feel is “justified anger.” Justified or not, it causes wounds which never completely heal. Thanks, George, for a very timely reminder!


  3. Carol Ferenc

    Such a valuable lesson, especially in today’s world where so many of us feel entitled to vent our anger despite any damage that’s caused. Thanks for sharing this gem, George.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nancy

    What a good story and an important lesson. A teacher at school does a similar lesson where the students tear apart a paper “person” to represent unkind words or thoughtless deeds. Next they tape the pieces back together representing the apologizes a person can offer. The paper person is whole again but she doesn’t look the same, showing how the damage can’t fully be repaired just by saying “sorry.” It’s an interesting concept for young children. Something they don’t always consider.



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