Dance Moms' Mackenzie Ziegler explains why a softer style of of teaching could help Cheryl Burke motivate young dancers

By Benjamin VanHoose
Updated July 25, 2017 05:07 PM

After five years following orders on Dance Moms, now Mackenzie Ziegler is the one doling out advice for one of the show’s newest addition.

Having endured some disciplinarian dance instructors during her years performing, 13-year-old Mackenzie encourages Cheryl Burke to “be nicer to the girls because we get annoyed a lot with our dance teachers that yell at us and we don’t want to listen to them sometimes.”

Added Ziegler during a visit to PEOPLE Now: “If she’s nice, I guess we’ll listen to her.”

Ziegler, who is the younger sister to Sia music video mainstay Maddie Ziegler, left the show in 2016 and now stays busy with music, dance and designing a back-to-school clothing collection for Justice. She says taking the lead more as she’s grown up has made her more confident.

“I always had someone screaming at me or telling me what to do or telling me what to be, but I feel like that has definitely boosted my confidence because I chose not to listen,” she said. “And now I choose not to listen to the haters or anyone like that.”

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Burke recently stepped into the mentorship role in the wake of previously star Abby Lee Miller‘s spat with production and legal drama surrounding fraud charges that led to a 366-day prison sentence.

In a special televised interview prior to her prison check-in, Miller said she “made lots of mistakes.” But, she said, “I gave kids a new life. No one can take that away from me, no one.”

Since Miller quit the show in March, former Dancing with the Stars pro Burke, 33, will pick up where Miller left off. And she has an idea “how to motivate these girls from within.”

Miller previously told PEOPLE she thinks producers will treat Burke “a hell of a lot better than they treated me, for now.”

“I think bringing in a stranger that has a résumé is going to be so much more important to them than me [and] the people that have been there for seven years, day in and day out, working our butts off,” she added. “She’ll get all the perks and we’ll get all the jerks.”