DG had the honour and the pleasure to speak at St Paul’s Collegiate in Gisborne at a parenting seminar. Have a read if you want to get some ideas about what you can do to help your children unleash their potential.

An evening with Dr David Galbraith in Gisborne

Clinical psychologist David Galbraith was brought to Gisborne by St Paul’s Collegiate for a one-hour free parenting seminar last week.

He spoke about unleashing children’s potential.  His thoughts were from 25 years in psychology, 18 years as a registered clinical psychologist, 12 years working with elite athletes and being a stay-at-home dad in his two daughters’ early years, he said.

If any of his talk helped anyone, that would be “great”, he said.

If not, “I don’t give a shit”.

Mr Galbraith’s irreverent approach to all things human was unique and went down well with the audience.

He applied 15 times to be a clinical psychologist and was turned down 14 times. Eventually they were so desperate for men, he was accepted, he said.

Since then he had worked with New Zealand’s top sports people, including Super Rugby franchise the Chiefs, and was a member of the New Zealand Olympic Committee contingent in Rio.

He broke down his 25 years of experience into two words.

“Identity and courage”.

He had seen many people come to him with issues of self-doubt and a lack of confidence.

“I cannot help people with that”.

Those things could not be touched directly. They had to be accessed through the pathway of living courageously.

‘What you think becomes your blueprint’

“If you are a coward in day-to-day life, under pressure you will be a lamb.”

Depression, anxiety, fear of failure, catastrophising and all those mental health issues so often stemmed from living as a coward, he said.

“What you think becomes your blueprint and what you resort to under pressure”.

He recognised mental unhealth could also be associated with trauma.

Mr Galbraith has spent 10 years with the Hamilton-based Chiefs.

One question he often asked the players was, “When your lady looks you in the eye and says ‘I love you’, can you hold her gaze?”

Although met with confusion, the question was to determine if they lived their life with courage.

“If you behave courageously, you feel pride in yourself and that leads to ambition and enthusiasm.”

One thing Mr Galbraith could do for people feeling self-doubt was to help them be brave because then their confidence grew.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you behaved cowardly, “then we feel shame and despair,” and that led to the mental health issues.

A long-term plan could be applied to parenting, he said.

“You’ve got an 18-year plan with your kids. Where do you want them to be?”

He was acutely aware the world was “way more complicated now” than when he was 18.

Mr Galbraith’s daughters are 12 and 16.

“At 18, they could be happily drunk under the Arc de Triomphe (in Paris) and I cannot help them from Hamilton. But right now, at this time, I can.”

Making sure your children were inter-dependent, as opposed to dependent, was important.

He encouraged parents to prepare their children now.

Failing at 13 was OK. They could learn the lessons before they turned 18.

To grow resilience and grit, you have to struggle. It does not mean abandoning your children but encouraging them in the safe haven of home to build self-reliance through struggle.

He asked the audience what had to happen during the day for them to feel happy and content at night when they went to sleep?

It was a success parameter, and usually came down to whether children were happy, and relationships were strong.

Often people were hard on themselves if they had lost their temper during the day. This was due to them thinking, “I have to be perfect, I can’t be imperfect”.

With that came stress.

After trying to be “perfect” one day, there came a defining moment in Mr Galbraith’s life, which involved “a dad, a toddler and a smashed window”.

It made him realise a couple of things. There needed to be more laughter in the home and that all that needed to be clean was the kitchen and the toilet.

“All the rest can get stuffed.”

A good way to induce laughter

He knew one sure-fire way to inject laughter into the home . . . farting.

“So I started to eat bran and I can tell you when you put a lot of effort into something, lots can happen. I could fart on cue. There became a lot of laughter.”

He also encourages his children, and athletes he has worked with, to “empty the tank”.

Pride was not related to what other people thought about you — it was related to who you saw in the mirror.

Success equalled pride, and pride was getting to the end of the tank — job done.

People needed to take away the programming and expectations around perfection.

So many athletes had body issues, depression and were not able to sit still and sleep properly, he said.

“Are you somebody whose glass is half empty of half full? Do you focus on what’s working or focus on what’s missing?”

Every day when he picked up his kids from school he asked them three questions — what was your best memory from the day, what did you learn today that will help you tomorrow, and what are you proud of?

Dr Galbraith’s golden rules to life:

1. Laugh a lot.

2. Love, and allow yourself to be loved.

3. Optimism.

But here was the kicker, he said — a survey of 60,000 people were asked two questions:

Are you stressed? And what is your relationship to stress?

The results showed people who were stressed died earlier.

But there was one exception.

One group of highly-stressed people lived as long as the unstressed group because “they loved stress”.

They saw it as opportunity, growth and part of living.