Help children make good choice | Decision Making skill (SODAS Method)
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Help children make good choice | Decision Making skill (SODAS Method)

Hey, my name’s Anthony. I’m a father of 2 girls. Sometimes being a parent is like being a detective. You have to really work at figuring out why your children make the decisions they do. Have you ever asked your child why they did something? I have. And most of the time they can’t describe why, they don’t want to, or they look at me like I’m an alien. Your child makes decisions all the time, but they may not realize it. For example, they know what clothes they want to wear, what they want to eat, and what they want to do. They are making decisions. Even simple ones. Life is about decision making and solving problems large and small. The thing that has helped me and my children has been using a method called SODAS. Using SODAS will help your child solve problems and make better decisions and that means it will be easier on you as a parent. SODAS is an acronym which makes it easy to remember. Your kids should love that. I mean, they speak acronym. ‘S’ stands for situation, ‘O’ for options, ‘D’ for disadvantages, ‘A’ for advantages, and the final ‘S’ for solution. Let’s go through each step and I’ll give you an example. First, the situation. In order to resolve an issue, you have to identify the situation. It’s important to describe the situation in detail. Be as specific as you can. For example, let’s imagine your child came home and told you that another kid in his class that he didn’t like started to throw paper at him. You could write the situation like, I was in my English class with a kid that I don’t like and then he started to throw paper at me. After you have clarified the situation, move next to ‘options’. It’s best to think of at least 3 options. In this example, your child came up with the following 3 options. Number 1, throw the paper back at the kid. Number 2, tell the teacher what the kid is doing. Number 3, ignore him. It’s that third option that seems to be a challenge for most kids to come up with. Always explore multiple options, even if it seems weird or silly to you so your child knows they have choices. Using the options from the previous step, begin writing down the disadvantages to each of those options. List as many disadvantages as you can for each one. In this example, your child may think that throwing the paper back might hit someone else and they won’t like them. If the child tells the teacher, option number 2, a disadvantage might be he will be considered a tattletale Once you have finished that, have your child do the same thing, but focus this time on the advantages of each option. In this example, your child may think an advantage to option number 1 is it’ll make him stop. Or an advantage to option number 3 is, I’ll look cool because I don’t care. It’s always helpful to list as many advantages as possible. Now it’s time to look through the entire worksheet. By choosing the best advantages and eliminating the worst disadvantages your child will begin to narrow down the best option. Once your child has figured out which option is best, they will come to a solution. In this example, the child decided to use options numbered 2 and 3 as a solution. Yes, your child may come to more that one solution. He will ignore him and tell the teacher if he does it again. Let’s watch a whole family use this skill during a family meeting. They’re trying to figure out what kind of pet they want to get. Even though the correct solution may be obvious to you as a parent sometimes, the important part is that you’re teaching your children how to make the best choices and involving them in the decision making process. Let’s watch a father with his teenage daughter use this skill to figure out how to resolve her problem of being late for curfew. Hey Olivia can you come in here for a second? Why? I wanna talk to you. What? You came in after your curfew again last night. I know. Well that’s three times this month. Have a seat. Let’s have a talk. Tell me what’s going on. I donno, I was just with Amy at her house and I guess I just lost track of time. Well, it’s looks like it’s becoming a recurring problem, so let’s use SODAS to figure it out. Okay… So which option do you think will work best? Probably to set my alarm 15 minutes earlier so I won’t be late. Okay, I think that sounds good. So you feel comfortable and know what to do when the situation arises. Let’s go practice. Fine. You guys are talking…(*alarm sounds*) Hey, I gotta go. See ya later. Bye. Okay. (*alarm sounds*) Oh! I have to go. Bye! See ya. Well now we’ve practiced a few times. Hopefully it won’t happen again. Okay, are we done? Yeah. Hey wait. You still have the consequence of extra chores. I know. Okay. Even though the daughter wasn’t super excited about doing this, she still contributed and they came up with a solution that worked for the both of them. Here’s an extra little tip. It’s ALWAYS helpful to PRACTICE your solution. Just like this father and daughter did. By using SODAS, it helps your child know why you have made certain decisions instead of saying “because I said so” or “because I’m the parent.” With one of my girls, I was able to use the SODAS method when I couldn’t figure out what to do to teach her to be more responsible. She would skip out on chores and leave the house without permission. I wanted to find a way to teach her that this behavior wasn’t appropriate. We ended up using the SODAS method to way the advantages and the disadvantages of some of our options and we came up with a solution that helped her make a change. It worked for me. How will you use the SODAS method in your family? Maybe you should do one right now to figure out when you can use it with your child. Let us know how it goes. ☺


  • Kate Laurie

    I can see this method as a good tool with both children & parents including an adults facing big decision which never seems to come to a resolution. And as time goes by , we all know where it leads too. Frustration & possible nagging. And we know where this becomes almost a wedge between two adults love. Thanks for posting.

  • Ricky Taylor

    Hi! I'm a youth mentor and would love to use this method to teach my students about smart decision making. is there anyway I can download a copy of the SODAS form

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