About S.O.D.A.S.5 min read

Recently, I have had a number of emails asking questions about how to use SODAS.

If you aren’t aware, SODAS are a problem solving exercise that I learned how to use while working for the Utah Youth Village. The exercises are wonderful for teaching the children and youth that there are always other options to choose during situations.

A question:

I am struggling with SODAS… Can the kids use them to earn back privileges? My kids are still all in the oral SODAS phase as none of them really write yet, although the 8 year old is getting close (but she’s not going to like that… she throws a fit whenever I ask her write anything beyond her first name…). Can you do on post refreshing me on how to actually do them and how to use them? I was at your seminar in Herriman but I’ve forgotten too much since then.

The details of how to do them are on my audio seminar CDs. You can use SODAS however you decide to, but this is how I use them. Whenever I see a child make a bad decision and act like there was no other choice, I know it is time to either do an oral or a written SODA. If the child could go to tears over writing a SODA, then you definitely should write it for her while she dictates, or do some and let her do some. The SODA isn’t meant to increase anxiety, it is meant to decrease anxiety by fully analyzing a situation.

The idea is that your child will become so natural at doing mental SODAS that they wll problem solve all of life’s problems, by the time they are adult age. By the time youth reach age 18 they should have all the basics of problem solving down, so that they can achieve their goals and lead out in their communities.

The other time I use them is when a child has chosen to go out of instructional control and loose all of their privileges. Remember how I told you to think of three negative consequences that are used during the Rule of Three? I use SODAS as my second negative consequence.

My children know that it takes a decent amount of time to complete and discuss a SODA, so sacrificing that much time by choice is something they need to really consider. Also, if they are out of control, they are obviously not thinking about what other options they might have to problem solve the situation at hand. This means they need to think through a similar situation when they are calm.

You asked if the children could use SODAS to earn back privileges. The only time I allow privileges to be earned back is if it is their birthday or another very special event which I need to show mercy for. This is very rare. Part of teaching children how to govern themselves, is teaching them cause and effect. Cause and effect can’t be learned if the consequences earned are not followed through with.


Hi Nicholeen,I recently ordered and received your seminar on CD. I love it and have already had some small success in our home! I have a question for you: In what situations would you use SODAS vs. Corrective Teaching? I can see with corrective teaching, that the parent gives the solution, whereas with SODAS, the child comes up with the solution themselves. I am so thankful for all your hard work on this CD project. It is making a real difference in my life!

SODAS vs. Corrective teaching:

SODAS are meant to inspire thought about what kinds of options there are in certain situations. If you can tell the child doesn’t think he has any other options in a situation, then you know it is time to do a SODA, or if the youth has displayed bad decision making skills.

Remember, whatever they choose to pick during the SODA is OK. Don’t try to make them pick what you think is right. After going through the exercise, they know what is right, but sometimes they will test you to see if you really want them to choose for themselves, or if you want them to just choose what you think they should choose. Let them choose, and then if they choose a bad choice, simply say, “It is very interesting that you chose to… I am so glad that I know how you would handle this situation…This helps me better be able to decide what kinds of situations I can allow you to be in and not be in.”

Corrective Teaching is used when a negative behavior has been chosen and needs to be corrected. The parent describes the negative behavior which occurred and then describes what should have happened and why. Then the parent and child practice the appropriate behavior.

I am assuming that you are wondering if it is OK to corrective teach in problem solving format. I.E. “Just now you wanted the car and you chose to hit your sister because she wouldn’t give it to you. Do you think that was a good choice? …………… What else could you have done?……… Let’s practice the appropriate behavior.” If your child is familiar with problem solving, then this would be OK. The problem is, this makes your interaction about the negative consequence longer, and it could also seem confrontational to some people. It seems like they need to somehowtell you what ideas youhave in your head. Thiscan be stressful. It is actually more loving to simply say that you noticed an inappropriate behavior and them tell them what they should have chosen. It is also shorter with less potential for additional anxiety.

SODAS are windows to self government.