Episode 28- How to Use the Honeymoon Phase
When foster kids are brought into a new home they often go through a phase called the “Honeymoon Phase.” This is normal, and it is actually a good thing.
Here are a few things you should know about the Honeymoon Phase.
Some people don’t like the honeymoon phase….But we DO!
We have spoken with foster parents who really do not like the honeymoon phase. As a result, they discredit every good thing their new foster kids does, saying, “Oh, they’re just doing that because they’re on their honeymoon.
They refuse to trust the good intentions and the positive efforts because of their new foster kids because of this way of thinking.
This is bad! It builds distrust and a stressed relationship. The positive efforts are not noticed, are not rewarded, and your youth will soon abandon those things, bringing on the end of the honeymoon phase.
Why we love the honeymoon phase.
You’ve probably noticed this by now, but Deb and I are different than most other foster parents. We love the honeymoon phase! If used correctly, you can get your new foster kids to make improvements that would normally take double the effort.
During this phase:
- New foster kids are trying really hard to please you. (They do this, not to pull the wool over your eyes but to actually impress you, and build a good relationship.)
- While foster kids are trying to please you is the best time to build relationships of trust.
- While they are on their best behavior and trying to impress, so should you!
- While foster kids are trying their best is also the best time to help them develop skills that they need.
- In our case, we get lots of kids who have problems accepting feedback or accepting no. Their trained response is to cry or argue. During the honeymoon phase we do intensive role plays in these areas to best harness their desire to improve.
We use the honeymoon phase to our advantage. We realize that we may be getting their best, and that it may not be sustainable, but we don’t hold that against them. We use that to help them.
Why does the honeymoon phase end?
There are lots of reasons for the honeymoon phase ending.
- True habits start to shine through.
- New foster kids efforts have been ignored and not rewarded.
- New foster kids and foster parents become complacent and comfortable.
- People get tired of each other.
Bottom line is, yes the honeymoon phase will end, but how and when depends largely on you. If you cultivate and reward the behaviors that you want to develop with your foster kids, they will continue to do many of those behaviors. Whereas, if you ignore the good behavior or say “They’re just honeymooning,” the honeymoon phase will end and will have been wasted.
Tips for making the most of the honeymoon phase.
- Reward all positive behavior, large or small.
- Set high expectations, and reward every effort to reach those.
- Often, tell your new foster kids specifically what they are doing right.
- “You are doing an awesome job following instructions. Every time I ask you to do something, you do it right away and check back. I really appreciate that!”
- Do something special to let new foster kids know that you notice their efforts.
- We often take them out to dinner or a movie, or sometimes both, to reward them.
- When we do this, we are very specific about what we have noticed that they’ve been working on. That way the are more likely to keep it up.
- Set goals to develop certain skills.
- Do regular role plays to practice those skills.
Bottom line is …
The honeymoon phase is going to happen. It is up to you to make sure that it happens in your favor, and in favor of your foster kids. Use the honeymoon phase to build positive relationships. Use that phase to reward positive efforts, and use the phase to build positive skills.
Call to Action!
- Come up with a plan for using the honeymoon phase while it lasts.
- Use this phase to build positive relationships, reward positive efforts, and build positive skills.
Thanks so much for listening. Stay tuned next week…
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Do you take advantage of the honeymoon phase? We’d love to hear your ideas. We love hearing from you guys!
Until next time!
Ben & Deb Pugh
The Foster Parents