In the new series Parental Guidance, hosts, Ally Langdon and Australian parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson put opinionated parents, with diverse parenting methods (outlined here), through a series of the toughest challenges imaginable in the search for Australia’s best parenting style.

In episode two of Parental Guidance, the parents were faced with a confronting test as they watch footage of their children playing in a park, while a distracted nanny talked on the phone.

The Parental Guidance producers then sent in an actor as a “stranger” to approach them and try and convince the kids to come and check out their dog’s puppies.

“This test is important,” explains parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson. “It will reveal which parents have had tough but vital conversations with their children and which parents have taught their children critical thinking skills.”

There’s no doubt, for the millions of Australian parents watching, their heart would be in their chest if their own children were in this test. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve had the stranger danger conversation or not – what would you kids do and how can you best prepare them for this scenario.

“Teaching children to develop their own critical thinking skills is invaluable,” explains Justin.

“It helps them to deal with the challenges that life throws at them especially when parents are not around.”

Dr Justin says parents can help encourage critical thinking in their children by pretend play and role plays or by giving them real life situations and asking them what they would do if they were in this situation.

Dr Justin Coulson says teaching children critical thinking skills is invaluable.

“When it comes to the conversation about stranger danger, it is true that there are some dangerous strangers,” says Justin.

“And we do need to teach our children that in whatever way suits our style but they do need to be taught. As we’ve seen in this challenge, this cuts to the core of what we care about most, the protection of our children.”

Attachment Parents, Lara and Andrew were relieved when their children, Chaya and Raphael did not go with the stranger.

The episode ends with Dr Justin sharing a frightening statistic.

“One of the most important things that I have to say is that in about 90 per cent of cases, the adult and the child will be known to each other. People that we know and trust cause far more harm to children than strangers.”

Justin says parents need to do two things.

“First, they need to have the difficult conversation with their children and secondly, they need to teach their children to think critically about adults and give them the sense that they can actually say no.”