Ally Langdon and parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson put ten brave sets of parents to the ultimate test in search of the best parenting style in the new Channel 9 series, Parental Guidance.

The series kicked off on Monday, November 1, at 7.30pm and brought together a group of opinionated parents, with diverse parenting methods, including natural, attachment, strict, routine, tiger and more.

While the parenting styles differ immensely, parenting expert and father-of-six, Dr Justin Coulson says the show isn’t about judging or shaming other parents.

“We’re not here to point fingers. It’s not about voting anyone off or beating anyone up. It’s really about elevating what’s good and helping us to see more of what works.”

Here’s three BIG things we need to talk about after watching the premiere epsiode…

 1. The genius car potty hack

During the ‘Backseat Driver’ challenge where children were put in charge of reading a map, it wasn’t the navigation skills we were impressed with rather Attachment Parenting mum, Lara’s clever car potty hack.

“There’s one big issue no one wants to mention,” host Ally Langdon says to the group. “The car potty! And the sponge!”

How does this hack work? When Lara’s five-year-old daughter, Chaya announces from the backseat that she needs to go to the toilet. The solution is an easy one!

Lara simply passes her daughter a potty to do her business. She then takes back the potty, pops it on the passenger seat and puts sponge inside it to soak up the urine.

“It’s the most genius parenting hack ever. Have a sponge with the potty,” shrugs Lara.

To which, Ally says, “Does anyone else just tell their kid to hang on?”

Nature Parenting mum, Liadhan was impressed too. “We would have found a drain. I wish I knew about the sponge hack.”

Lara, we thank you for sharing that car potty hack with Australia.

2. The ‘nature parenting’ kids will read when they are ready

Parenting expert, Justin describes ‘nature parenting’ as being all about getting kids outside.

“It’s about moving the structures and restrictions that make families stressed out all the time.”

“We have chosen the lifestyle that we have because we want to be together as a family unit as much as we are able to,” says nature parenting style mum, Liadhan.

“Kids can’t bounce off the walls if you take the walls away.” And you know, she’s got a point there.

“We take a natural approach to learning in our family. The older two read when they were ready. They were about nine and 10 years old.”

The couples younger three children are five, seven and nine and not reading yet.

“Some people might panic and say why aren’t they reading, they are five, seven and nine and we say, they will read when they are ready,” says nature dad, Richard insisting they will learn to read from being exposed to reading.

It’s food for thought. Do kids need to follow an education-based curriculum?

3. “Smacking does not serve our children well”

The most heated topic to come from the first episode of Parental Guidance was around the subject of smacking.

Strict parents, Andrew and Miriam admit they smack their three children, Luke, 12, Grace, 10 and Tim, five.

“We clearly set the boundaries and rules in the house. There are boundaries and there are consequences. You just can’t do whatever you want,” says Andrew.

“We do use smacking as a form of discipiline. We see a smack as one tool in the parenting tool box,” explains Miriam.

“A smack quickly communicates that (behaviour) is not ok,” reasons Andrew.

While the group was not in favour of smacking, when Ally asked them to be honest and raise their hands if they’d ever smacked their child, it was concerning to see quite a few arms go up. Even attachment parenting mum, Lara raised her hand.

Dr Justin Coulson had the final say on the issue and says the idea that smacking is ok really needs to change.

“Smacking is a really divisive issue. Statistics tell us that around 50 per cent of Australians still think smacking is ok and frankly it really needs to change,” he says.

“The research is really clear, smacking does not serve our children well. It does not help them to grow or to develop. Just recently, there’s been new studies that have come out that talk about how harsh punitive parenting, including smacking, is associated with reduced brain size in children. There isn’t any evidence to support smacking as a useful parenting tool. It is one that does need to come out of the tool kit.

“We don’t need to hurt kids to teach them lessons. We need to help kids to learn to be better.

Ally Langdon and parenting expert Dr Justin Coulson host Parental Guidance.