From Toddlers and Tiaras, to Dance Moms, to Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, everyone has an opinion about these stage moms and it does make for good television. No matter your thoughts, some children do want to be involved in performance arts such as television, film, modeling and pageants. And there are good stages moms, and dads too, out there. Here are some tips if you find yourself embarking with your child on the journey into performance activities.
1. Evaluate your motivations. This is particularly important if your child is too young to express their interests and you are the one initiating involvement in performance. Before even beginning, ask yourself why you want your child to engage in such activities. If the answer has anything at all to do with you…to boost your self esteem or to fulfill an unrealized dream of yours…then it is not a good idea.
2. Have the right frame of mind. View performance activities as extracurricular activities, not as an investment or as a career. After all, most children will not be the next J-Lo. And even if your child does happen to be the next superstar, remember, they are a child first and healthy development means allowing them to have a childhood.
3. Focus on family. You want to role model for your child the importance of family. Do not let performance activities overshadow family time and pay special attention to your other children as well.
4. Build your child’s self-esteem. Performance activities often focus on physical attributes and this can lead to an unhealthy fixation on appearance and body image. To counteract this, praise your child’s internal characteristics such as their kindness or thoughtfulness to build their self-confidence.
5. Keep in mind your child’s interests. Particularly if you initiated involvement in performance activities, realize there might come a time when your child no longer wants to continue. They may not enjoy such activities and they may have other interests. If so, your child should be allowed the choice of what activities to pursue.
6. Have developmentally appropriate expectations. Young children experience separation anxiety. They have tantrums. They need naps. So realize that your two-year old may refuse to separate from you at an audition. They may burst into tears in the middle of a pageant.
7. Do not threaten or punish. Would you punish your child for missing that goal in soccer? Then you should not punish them for forgetting that line in that audition. Remember, performance activities are extracurricular activities. You should encourage your child to practice and to try their best and that is all.
8. Accept rejection. And help your child do the same. Part of being involved in performance activities is rejection. Your child will not win every pageant. They will not book every modeling gig. Praise your child’s efforts and attempts rather than outcomes and help them learn to cope with disappointment and letdown.
9. Surround yourself with supportive professionals. Whether it be an agent, manager or even the photographer you hire for head shots, be sure that they follow these tips too. After all, you want your child to be healthy and happy within a life of performance activities and although you play an important role, others have a great impact as well.
10. Plan for the future. Most likely your child’s involvement in these activities will end without their becoming a celebrity just as another child’s playing baseball will end without being drafted into the pros. So you want to focus on raising a happy and healthy child, not on raising the next American Idol and if they happen to be the next American Idol, then at least they will be a happy and healthy one.