Reese Witherspoon Encourages ‘Tough’ Parenting: ‘Learn From Failure’

Photo from Reese Witherspoon’s Instagram

Reese Witherspoon Encourages ‘Tough’ Parenting: ‘Learn From Failure’

By Movieguide® Contributor

Reese Witherspoon encourages parents to be “tough” and let their kids “sit in the discomfort” of failure. 

“I see this a lot with parents — I don’t know when we stopped letting our kids fail,” she said during an appearance on the “Good Inside with Dr. Becky” podcast. “Like, I learned so much from the paper I didn’t turn in or the demerits I got, so I got detention.”

She continued, “I was suspended from school when I was in fifth grade for talking in class and being disruptive and writing creative notes and passing them to my friends, and my parents didn’t say, ‘Uh, she didn’t deserve that’ and take me out of school. They actually let me sit in it and feel uncomfortable.”

“So I think learning from failure is actually a valuable tool that you can’t take away from kids, right? You rob them if you don’t let them sit in the discomfort of the experience,” the actress concluded. 

Witherspoon shared an anecdote about her own experience as a “tough parent,” explaining that her daughter Ava, then in third grade, came home from a basketball game, disappointed she had not scored any baskets. 

She recalled saying, “Yeah, I know. I know, that probably feels really bad. You know what also, maybe you’re not good at basketball?”

“[Ava] was like, ‘What? Can you tell me I’m not good at something?’” Witherspoon laughed. 

The LEGALLY BLONDE actress also emphasized the importance of “knowing your players.”

“Each one of your kids is gonna be totally different,” Witherspoon explained. “As parents, it’s our job not to make them conform to who we want them to be — it’s our jobs to figure out who they are and help them play to their strengths.”

Witherspoon explores the concept of learning from failure and playing to your strengths in her latest children’s book, “Busy Betty and the Circus Surprise.”

“I wanted Betty to have real childish emotions where she loses her cool and has a temper tantrum sometimes, or feels like all is lost and she’s on the floor crying,” the actress said of the book. “But then she figures out how to pick herself up and dust herself off and I move forward.”

Witherspoon continued, “I think we get stuck in this idea of perfectionism or to do something. I was never the go-to athlete or the best musician in music class, but I always participated with a lot of enthusiasm. And I think we have to encourage kids to try new things because we can get really stuck in this fear cycle of worrying what other people think of us. And childhood is the best time to experiment: that’s what I try to encourage to my own kids.”