Learning Abacus Mental Arithmetic for Emotional Resilience

How time flies and it’s already half of the year 2017. Over the past several months, we have seen in the mass media news about youngsters committing suicides due to severe stress. As the list gets longer and the cases get more tragic, our mind is all on pins and needles, wondering “what has happened to you, kid?”

According to statistics by the Malaysian Health Ministry, among all the races in Malaysia, the Chinese tops the suicide list, overtaking the Indians since 2007 (48% Chinese, 21% Indians and 13% Malays). Chinese students constitute the largest group of suicides within the community, a trend which is more prevalent than other ethnic groups in the country. Most suicide victims are secondary school students and undergraduates. However, we are now seeing an increasing number of cases involving primary school children. This evidently shows that Chinese students are facing enormous academic competition and mental pressure early in their lives.

At school, young students are burdened with parental expectations to compete with their peers and excel academically. Slow learners who are unable to keep up with their studies often feel neglected and rejected. Suicides among the young have become an inevitable issue that we need to address. However, when this issue pops up in our conversations, the most common remark is “Why are young people so vulnerable these days? They’re so spoilt!”, etc.

Indeed, there are many reasons that have led to young people choosing to take their own lives. For instance, stress at school and pressure from parents are some of the causes of suicide. However, we’re not going to dwell on these causes. Instead, we will explore the importance of emotional intelligence and psychological quality of the young generation today.

Our education system lacks EQ education, resulting in students having inadequate emotional resilience and skills to overcome various challenges and stress in school. Akin to a budding seedling, their mind withers prematurely. US psychologist Daniel Goleman believes that IQ only accounts for 20% of success while other factors account for 80% of success. The other key factors include EQ skill set like self-motivation, perseverance, impulse control, emotion regulation, optimism, a sense of responsibility, etc. Goleman’s study shows that experience and education have little impact on IQ but EQ can be acquired and improved as early as during childhood.

Studies show that the best period to nurture EQ is before one reaches 15 years of age because the formation of a person’s character and mentality is almost complete by 15, thus harder to mould it by then. Children these days have lower EQ. This simply means they lack the skill set to control their emotions, and are prone to feeling dejected. With couples now having fewer children, most children grow up in an overprotective environment. This leads to limited exposure for them to learn about facing obstacles and honing their willpower. So, what can parents do to help children develop their EQ?

For children, home is the first place to learn―their first school in the journey of life. In other words, parents like you are your child’s first teacher. Therefore, parents need to teach by example because it has profound influence on children. Apart from learning at home and school, how do we help children to grow in emotional resilience? Abacus mental arithmetic is actually a good way to help children acquire the skill set in developing EQ. Though it is commonly known that learning abacus mental arithmetic can help develop children’s mental focus and their left and right brain, it is less known that learning abacus mental arithmetic can also nurture a child’s resilience and willpower.

Learning abacus mental arithmetic undoubtedly improves your child’s concentration, but at the same time, it also helps develop your child’s EQ. When children move the beads in their mind, they need concentration. For instance, a arithmetic question of adding from 1 to 100 requires repetitive skill practice up to tens and hundreds of times before one can obtain the answer fast and accurately. To go through the process, children need to persevere, practise repetitively and put in their efforts. They might get bored and even think about giving up, but with encouragement and guidance from their instructors, children learn to control and adjust their emotions. This ultimately helps develop discipline, determination and motivation in young learners as well as keeping their minds away from being filled playful thoughts all the time.

Do we not lament that our children are not ‘tough’ enough? Learning abacus mental arithmetic is actually a process of self-control, a test of their willpower. As abacus mental arithmetic requires speed and accuracy, learning it over a long period of time can gradually develop learners’ attention to detail, diligence and meticulousness. All these traits help cultivate children’s sense of responsibility, perseverance as well as their inner drive to strive for efficiency and quality in whatever they do in the future. Life is a long journey of striving to be better. Thus, it requires one to be well-equipped mentally and psychologically. Empower the little ones with emotional resilience. It will benefit your child a lifetime.