Date: 05 Apr 2013

Positive Youth Development in Organized Programs: How Teens Learn to Manage Emotions

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Organized youth programs provide opportunities for adolescents to develop life and career skills while working on real-world projects, such as planning community events or creating public service announcements. In this chapter, we focus on adolescents’ development of skills for managing emotions. We first discuss how youth learn strategies for handling emotions that arise in their work on projects, and then look at how adult program leaders facilitate youth’s learning. Key findings from our qualitative research are that youth learn about emotions through active, conscious processes of observing and analyzing their experiences; and they learn not only to regulate frustration, anger, and worry, but also to use the functional aspects of these emotions in constructive ways. Program leaders facilitate youth’s active learning process through emotion coaching – helping youth reflect on unfolding emotional episodes, consider alternative strategies, and persist in problem solving. The chapter shows how effective organized programs provide rich affordances for positive youth development.