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Raising Great Grade Schoolers Issue 1 2 3 4

Making Decisions and Solving Problems

Helping Your Grade Schooler Make Good Decisions

Once your child enters grade school, they'll spend less time under your watchful eye, and encounter more situations where they'll need to make decisions for themselves. Will your child make good choices?

You can't predict the future, but you can prepare your child to think through a situation or problem and try to make the best decision they can.

Use SODAS to Teach Your Child to Make Good Decisions

We talked about the SODAS method is Issue 2, and we're diving into more detail here. As a recap, SODAS stands for:

  • S = Situation (define the situation)
  • O = Options (come up with options)
  • D = Disadvantages (think of the disadvantages of each option)
  • A = Advantages (think through the advantages of each option)
  • S = Solution (choose a solution)

There are two primary goals when using SODAS:

  1. To give you and your child a process for solving problems and making decisions together
  2. To help you teach your child how to solve problems and make decisions on their own

Defining the Situation

Before your child can solve a problem, they need to understand it. Defining the situation can be the most time-consuming part of teaching good decision-making. Children often use vague or emotional descriptions, so it can take some time to discern what they're trying to tell you. Here are some tips for helping your child define a problem:

  • Ask specific, open-ended questions.
  • Teach your child to focus on the entire situation instead of just part of it.
  • Summarize the situation for your child.

Options and Their Disadvantages and Advantages

Options are your child's choices for solving a problem. Once you and your child understand the situation, you can begin discussing options. Children tend to think of options as "all or nothing" solutions. For example, a student who scores poorly on a test may think they immediately must change classes because "everything is ruined."

Your job as a parent is to encourage your child to consider alternative options. Ask questions like, "Can you think of anything else you could do?" and "What else could solve the problem?" Use questions like these to help your child come up with no more than three options. Then, talk through the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

Choosing a Solution

Finally, it's time to help your child arrive at the best solution to the problem. Briefly summarize the disadvantages and advantages of each option, and ask your child to choose what they think is the best option. Remember, some decisions are hard to make; if the decision doesn't need to be made immediately, let your grade schooler think on it for a few hours or overnight.

The SODAS method is an excellent process for teaching your child how to make decisions, and it can be used in many different situations. And you can feel confident that you have armed your child with a practical, easy-to-use method for solving problems and making decisions.

Teaching Activity

Practicing the SODAS Method

When faced with a problem, kids need a way to work through it to find a workable, appropriate solution. The SODAS method provides structure to the process of solving problems and gives kids a new way to approach situations where they might have acted hastily or inappropriately in the past.

  1. Situation: Reflect on the situation and establish the who, what, where, when, and why involved.
  2. Options: Consider your options, or choices, and make a list of both good and bad ones.
  3. Disadvantages: Determine the disadvantages of every option.
  4. Advantages: Work out the advantages of every option.
  5. Solution: Summarize all your options and decide which solution will work best.

Social skill

Preventing Trouble with Others

The ability to prevent and resolve conflicts is a social skill that will help your child's relationships thrive throughout their entire life. As a parent, you may be tempted to jump in and resolve conflict situations for your child—especially if they ask you what they should do. To prepare your child to handle conflicts on their own, sit down and discuss situations they may encounter and ways they can resolve those situations. Here are the steps:

  1. Identify situations that commonly result in conflicts.
  2. Review the skills that are necessary to handle those specific situations.
  3. Approach situations with a positive voice, a smile, and a willingness to compromise.
  4. Ask for advice from a caring adult.
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