Troy resident authors book, website promoting confidence growth in children

By: Jonathan Shead | Troy Times | Published May 15, 2021

 Troy resident and author Namita Prasad displays her new book, “The Power of Why Not,” at her home May 7. It is available, along with other resources, at namitaprasad.com.

Troy resident and author Namita Prasad displays her new book, “The Power of Why Not,” at her home May 7. It is available, along with other resources, at namitaprasad.com.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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TROY — A Troy resident, parent and former after-school enrichment educator has authored a new book, “The Power of Why Not,” and an accompanying website to promote confidence growth in children.

Founder of ConfidentLee and self-coined confidence educator Namita Prasad’s journey and motivation to make a difference in children’s lives began in 2015, she said, when she noticed differing outcomes for children.

“I felt this gap. I had been working in the after-school enrichment business with children for the last few years, and as I was working with them, I realized some children’s outcomes were different than others. It was not because they were just smarter or gifted. It’s because of their understanding of confidence,” Prasad said. “That started my journey in 2015, when I started really diving deep into how kids can become successful and why is confidence playing such an important role in their lives.”

Since then, Prasad has kept busy authoring her book and putting together free, downloadable materials to help students achieve their highest levels of confidence and success, a topic that she feels has been especially important after COVID-19 changed the way students interact with their schools.

“This year has been a challenge for everybody — children, parents, educators (and) coaches. I think for children, we never had those conversations with them that if there’s a pandemic, this is what they’re supposed to do. They were just coping with it as it came along, and I think everybody got thrown into it,” she said.

United Nations Children’s Fund data shows that there could be potential learning losses that could affect more than 168 million children globally because of impacts of the pandemic.

Most of those impacts aren’t very clearly defined, at least not yet, Troy Youth Assistance caseworker Zetter Slappy said. “That’s an extremely difficult question to answer,” he said when asked whether he’s seen changes in students’ confidence and/or overall mentality during the past COVID year.

“I couldn’t do any comparisons in that regard to say if there was low school engagement from the pandemic year versus the previous ones, because we did receive referrals for help and assistance regarding low school engagement pre-COVID as well. I wouldn’t be able to answer that (question) fully until we see the ramifications of the academics, and also assertiveness and other aspects of the child going forth.”

As students finish up final exams and log off from Zoom one last time before summer, only one thing is certain: the uncertainty of what school will look like come fall 2021. Prasad believes this summer is the perfect time to start working with children on their confidence.

“When we think about our children becoming successful, success is a moving target. Everybody’s idea of success is different, but what it requires is a child to believe in themselves and know that whatever the goal may be, it’s a process, it’s teachable for the parent and it’s attainable for the child,” Prasad said. “Confidence is a mindset, an approach to life.”

Confidence, Prasad said, can be taught and has to start with the parents.

“I have the same struggles as other parents,” Prasad, a parent of a sixth grader, said. “The first thing for me, as the well-meaning adult, is to first understand what confidence is (and) the role it plays in a child’s life. First, I need to be informed, and I need to know, No. 2, that I don’t have to be confident to make my child confident. All I need to know is it’s a process.”

Zetter agreed parents need to play an active role in their child’s school life to help them avoid stress and grow their confidence.

“Parents have to take an active role in ensuring that the child has completed their homework as well. When the child completes their schoolwork on a daily basis, then that helps eliminate any feeling of being overwhelmed, stress, tension or anxiety. Many times that’s what will occur when they miss some homework, and it starts to pile up like a snowball. Then it’s so large they feel that it’s unattainable to conquer it.”

Routine and structure are equally important, Prasad and Zetter agreed.

“Because confidence is the outcome of actions or practice, encourage children to set goals,” Prasad said. “That goal could be a family contribution of emptying the dishwasher. It could be the goal of helping mom with groceries. It could be the goal of shooting hoops for 10 days (or) cleaning their room. The tiniest possible goals show them the process to becoming confident. I think that’s something that would really equip them for life.”

While parents don’t need to be confident themselves to teach their children confidence, Prasad said some of her own teachings have certainly rubbed off on her, and her daughter continues to remind her of her own teachings as well. “I think that also makes a confident family,” she said.

Prasad acknowledges the journey to building confidence in children is not an easy one. It’ll require parents to have hard, but not impossible, conversations with their children about how they’re really feeling. One game Zetter said helps with his students is High Low Buffalo, a game that helps get children out of responding with blanket, “I’m good,” statements and gets them to talk more in depth about the highs and lows of their day.

“By doing different techniques and methods to extract more information from them and more detailed information, then we can assist and help them when they start running into issues and problems, when they’re starting to feel sad or a little despondent, or they feel like they’re having troubles and issues but no one understands,” he said, adding that the more they’re reminded of their potential and abilities, it’ll help to build their confidence.

All of Prasad’s resources and materials, excluding her book and journal, are free to download for parents, educators or anyone else interested.

“Movements bring change, and change should not cost money,” she said.

For more information, visit https://namitaprasad.com.

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