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The ‘Hannah Montana’ Effect: Why Most Child Stars Go Bad

This year, Miley Cyrus released her sixth studio album, Younger Now. Though she’s enjoying success in the charts, the past few years have been turbulent for the former Disney Channel star. She was involved in several scandals including frequent drug use and a raunchy performance during the 2013 VMAs. Fortunately, Cyrus has managed to put the past behind her and is now enjoying a sober lifestyle and a successful music career.

Don’t let the bright lights fool you, Hollywood isn’t exactly all about the glamour. From peer pressure to parental negligence, child stars can go bad for several reasons. And sadly, many child stars go bad but not everyone is lucky enough to rebound like Cyrus. In order to prevent this from happening to your children, it is important  to get to the root of the problem first.

Here are the top reasons why most child stars go bad and what you can do about it.

5 Reasons Child Stars Go Bad

1. Lack of parental control and guidance

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As Miley Cyrus’s career began to take off, her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, went on the record to confess that he had little control over his daughter anymore. Miley’s Disney entourage had clearly been taking over her every move. Any good parent should consider this situation to be a warning sign. Sure, everyone needs to answer to a higher power, and in show business, you’ll have to answer to a lot of authoritative figures. But you know your child and what they can and cannot do. If you feel like the work is too much or if it is a little too mature for their age, don’t be afraid to voice out your concerns. Your child can’t make decisions on their own, so having someone trusted assist them will help them feel more secure.

2. Bad influences

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You’ve probably heard this story before: Small-town star moves to a big city and suddenly they’re doing multiple stints in rehab. So why does this happen? Why do some child stars go bad and go astray? For most cases, bad habits are picked up from the people you surround yourself with. The entourage, the friends, the co-stars, anyone can draw a child into the dark side of showbiz—in a single sentence. Parents or guardians should be wary of the people the child star hangs out with. Age is a huge factor here, as older people tend to have access to alcohol and drugs. Don’t be afraid to draw the line when it comes to your child’s so-called friends. It is important to exert your authority before others do.

3. A lost childhood

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In a single, heartbreaking sentence, global superstar Michael Jackson asked, “Have you seen my childhood?” The answer to the question is devastating. Nobody saw Michael Jackson’s childhood. At a tender age, his extraordinary talent was put on full display. And while the world continued to be in awe over the legend that was Michael Jackson, no one really paid attention to his non-existent childhood.

When you grow up as a child star, camping trips become rehearsals and classroom settings become one-on-one tutorial sessions. Sure, it may be hard to maintain a normal childhood when you’re in the limelight, but when your child is not working, let him or her enjoy the little things. Let them hang out with their cousins, go out on a movie, and take up a sport if they want to. Do everything you can to separate work and living a normal life.

4. Exploitation

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Exploitation is a serious issue that should never be taken lightly. Unfortunately, this has long been a dark secret in Hollywood that keeps its victims silent for years, making it one of the top reasons child stars go bad. Whether the abuse comes from an older co-star or a shady executive, child stars easily fall victim to power tripping and become sexually objectified in the process. To combat this, your best option is to develop the sense of trust between you and your child. That way, they can be honest with you in case something happens. Assure them that they won’t, in any way, be punished for telling the truth.

5. Pressure

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Show business is hard. In fact, it is one of the most cutthroat industries out there. Even the most privileged and talented child stars feel the pressure. For example, your latest film is a commercial failure. The phone will probably stop ringing and critics will relentlessly pick you apart. Children don’t entirely understand this. After all, they’re just doing what they love!

So what can you do to help your child? Once again, an honest parent-child relationship is important when it comes to keeping child stars grounded. You’ll also have to let them drive their career the way they want to. There’s no sense adding the pressure by forcing them to keep taking projects when they can’t put their heart and mind to it. The least you can do is help your child develop a strong voice in their own careers.