Learning how to make good choices isn’t something that comes naturally to children. Decision making skills are something children need to be taught. We do children a disservice we when we don’t teach this valuable life skill or when we step in to remove the consequences of their poor decisions.
When children have the tools to make better decisions they are less likely to be swayed by peers, less likely to do things that may cause harm to themselves or others, and they learn how to take responsibility for their actions. Children who are able to make wise decisions are more likely to grow up and be productive members of society. Isn’t that the hope of every parent?
Using the behavior skill of Decision Making (SODAS Method) teaches a child to pause and think through all their options and the advantages and disadvantages to each. The 5 steps of the SODAS Method can be used to make decisions both large and small. You can download the SODAS Method decision making PDF on the Smarter Parenting website.
SODAS stands for Situation, Options, Disadvantages, Advantages, Solution.
Using the SODAS Method, children work through the decision making process by first determining what the situation they need to make a decision about is. Second, identify three options they have for that situation. Third, coming up with disadvantage and advantages for each of the three options. Finally, coming to a solution that addresses the situation with the best possible outcome.
When using the SODAS method, a child will often have a difficult time coming up with three options for a given situation. They will easily be able to come up with two, but it’s that last one that will be tricky for them. If that happens, encourage your child to continue thinking about what they can do, but do not provide the answer for them. Giving them the freedom to work through situations with little guidance from you will give them confidence in their abilities to make good decisions. This is the part that is a challenging for many parents as they want to impart their knowledge or direct their child to what they think is best.
Watch the Decision Making (SODAS Method) skills video together with your child and answer any questions they may have. For children to become comfortable with the skill of decision making, it takes a lot of practice. Start by working through easier situations to help them gain the confidence they need before moving onto more difficult situations. Easy situations could be: what to have for dinner, what should I wear, what toy should I buy. Hard topics could be: what happens when curfew is missed, how to deal with a bully, am I ready for a phone. Games and activities are a fun way for children to practice in a non-threatening situation. Visit Smarter Parenting for ideas. Children don’t always want to practice, so we do what you can to make it fun–including offering small rewards.
Problem solving and decision making skills are helpful to children of all ages and not just young children. In fact, teenagers may find this especially helpful as often their decision have increased consequences..
It is important for children to see parents using this method to make decisions. Show your child how you use this skill to make decisions.
SODAS Method is especially helpful in the family decision making process when decisions affecting the whole family need to be made or when family members have differing viewpoints on the same situation. Involving children in decision making allows them to be more invested in the final outcome and more likely to follow what has been determined.
The SODAS Method is used by various schools, therapists, programs, and agencies, etc.