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How to encourage your child's acting talents

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ALPHARETTA, Ga. -

Usually mother is a term of endearment. But when hear the phrase 'stage mom', maternal is not exactly what comes to mind. So, how do you encourage your child's talents without becoming overbearing?

Off Broadway Dance Theater in Alpharetta has all the makings of good reality show. There are kids giving it their all week after week in rehearsals, and instructors Shannon and Chris Mayer demand the best from their students.

"We try to run it like a professional rehearsal. You come, you do your work, you go home," said Chris Mayer.

Rounding out the cast are the moms who seem just as dedicated as their children. But at the dance theater, one thing you won't find is drama.

"Not at all. We are best friends. We call each other every day. We go out to dinner," said mother Kristen Smith. "We love being together.

On Dance Moms, you see more fights between the mothers than dancing on the stage. Shannon Mayer, who wrote a book titled The Practical Guide for Theater Kids and Parents, says to keep from becoming a stage mom, make sure it's the child in the driver's seat.

"When it stops being the child's passion, it needs to stop because that's when the children are going to start resenting it. And they'll start saying ‘I don't want to go to rehearsal. I don't want to go to dance class.' It needs to be the child's desire not the parents'," said Shannon.

She says parents need to model good behavior for their children, and they should be taught basic manners. Since performing is ultimately a competitive sport, you and your child must be able to take rejection.

"They have to get thick skin and they have to be resilient. If it's going to be something where they take it personally and they get their feelings hurt when they don't get cast in a role, then perhaps it's not for them," said Shannon.

For Owen Smith, performing is what she wants to do professionally. Her mom says she won't let it happen at the expense of good moral character.

"I think if it ever got like dance moms absolutely. That's why I think that dance moms can't be that real because who would keep their child in that environment? I would pull her out in a second," said Smith.

The Mayers say don't consider it a waste of time if your child decides he or she no longer wants to perform. They will always have an appreciation for the arts and they will have learned valuable life skills.

Shannon's guide is available as a free download, just click here!

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