Decision-making Methods (SODAS Method)

Next Lesson:

Effective Negative Consequences

Effective Negative Consequences lesson link

Where to begin

Teaching your child a new skill can be difficult. Here are some steps and suggestions to help you when teaching your child this skill.

  1. Watch the lesson. We recommend you review it a few times so you are clear on the concepts of the steps.
  2. If appropriate, have your child watch the lesson as well.
  3. Print out the printable materials provided in the lower part of this page.
  4. Initially choose a situation that is fairly easy to resolve. After working through it, choose a harder situation. Evaluate your child’s ability to resolve the problem and work with them on completing each of the steps.
  5. Whenever a situation arises where your child needs to make a difficult decision, have them use this skill.

Suggestions for parents when teaching this skill

  • Work through the skill with your children but allow them to suggest Options, Disadvantages and Advantages.
  • Practice the Solution so your child knows how to do it and can determine if it was a good decision. Practice often.
  • Keep comments to yourself. Withhold your desire to interrupt and guide them with what you would do.
  • You may have to do multiple versions of Options, Disadvantages, and Advantages for one situation. That is alright. It allows your children to work through things.
  • Parents should demonstrate using the SODAS Method in front of their children when they have to make decisions. These decisions may include: disciplining, assigning chores and responsibilities in the home, what to have for dinner, where to go on vacation, what pet the family should get, etc. The skill of SODAS can be used for many different things.

Help, Activities, and Testimonials

How organizations use SODAS Method

The SODAS Method of Decision Making and problem solving is widely used in Mental Health interventions as well as in scholarly reviews. We have included information and links to how SODAS is used in multiple settings and with various populations.

The University of Florida used the SODAS method for Adults At-Risk for Homelessness. To read of their study click HERE.
The University of Nebraska has this explanation of SODAS and use for students. Click HERE.
Adventure IQ provides outdoor adventure based experiences and cultural immersion experiences and community service experiences usually in the wilderness. They teach the skill of SODAS as a training tool in preparation for their program. To view their video on SODAS click HERE. To visit their website you can click HERE.

Smarter Parenting blog posts

My child is sexting. Now what?

Kids do dumb things

A child’s brain needs experiences, not just information

4 questions your teen will ask about marijuana

Why you need to give your child an allowance

Games and activities are a fun and instructional way for parents to engage with their children and teach the skills in an environment that is cooperative and collaborative. These activities allow parents opportunities to explore multiple options, disadvantages and advantages. They are helpful in learning the SODAS Method.

Upside down puzzle

This activity is helpful and fun for younger children. Parents can use this skill when trying to teach the skill of Decision Making (SODAS Method) to a group of children.

How to use this activity

After explaining the game, allow your children to play it and don’t interrupt. Allow them to set goals and work toward them. You can use a timer or you can allow as much time as you need. The parent should observe the interaction and take notes of what the children do well and what they can improve on. Once the activity is completed, be sure to praise the children on what they did well. Using the SODAS Method worksheet you can begin to outline and discuss with your children each of the steps. Talk with them about options but allow them to share what they want. The parent should observe and encourage but not provide answers. The goal is to allow the children to explore options, disadvantages and advantages on their own. This is a great ice-breaker to use with children before using the SODAS Method for something more challenging. Once the children understand the steps of the skill have them set goals and retry the activity. Observe improvement and praise them for the good they do.

Balance the nails

This is a lesson activity. You will need around 13 long nails and a base to hold one of the nails upright. This activity takes around five minutes to do.

How to use this activity

Use this activity with teenagers. It’s a problem solving activity that challenges the way your child will think through problems and cause some discomfort for them. This activity provides you with many opportunities to examine and discuss how your child makes decisions. Be sure to allow them time to figure it out without interrupting them. Allow them enough time to be uncomfortable with the puzzle. Discomfort when trying to solve problems is normal to everyday decision making. You can refer back to this activity whenever your child is confronted with a difficult decision. Be sure to praise them for trying to work through it with you.

Dice game 4-1-21

How to use this activity

This game requires dice. The game is simple and it is quick to play. After playing, you can talk to your child about why they made the decisions they did and discuss things they would do differently if they were to play it again. Play it again and continue the discussion afterward. Don’t take too much time analyzing everything. Just discuss options and the disadvantages and advantages of options. When you feel the time is right you can introduce S.O.D.A.S. from this lesson and talk about more complicated decisions.

Peg board game

This is a popular game you can create, order online or find in most stores Some restaurants also carry this game. The game starts with pegs (golf tees) in all the holes except one; the goal is to jump pegs one at a time, removing the jumped peg until only one peg remains. The instructions on the board say that if you leave only one peg, you are a genius.

How to use this activity

Allow your child to play this game until they are finished. Once they have finished talk to them about how they played the game. Review and define the situation of the game first and continue to discuss options and advantages for certain moves and disadvantages for other moves. The game allows parents to explore and discuss the Decision Making process and to Problem Solve in a neutral setting. Once the steps of SODAS have been openly discussed in this setting, it will be easier to begin using this skill for other situations. A word of recommendation: When introducing the SODAS method to your child use a situation that is simple. DO NOT USE A SITUATION THAT IS TOO DIFFICULT UNTIL YOUR CHILD CAN USE THE SKILL EFFECTIVELY WITH SOME CERTAINTY.


Chaz explains how using the SODAS Method changed his life. He also talks about sharing this skill with friends.


Jesse talks about using the SODAS Method to make a decision about purchasing a big ticket item. Jesse is a father and a Mental Health Therapist.


Cameron shares his experience with SODAS and how it helped a young man he was working with improve his life.

Ready to go further?

Sign up for the Smarter Parenting Club and gain access to additional resources, and most importantly, individualized coaching to assist you with effective communication with your child and much more.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Parenting SkillsDecision-making Methods (SODAS Method)