Standards for child and youth development programs

2020 Edition

Out-of-School Time (CYD-OST) 4: Promoting Positive Behaviors and Healthy Peer Relationships

Personnel partner with children and youth to build a nurturing, inclusive community that supports positive behavior and encourages respectful, cooperative interactions.
2020 Edition

Currently viewing: OUT-OF-SCHOOL TIME (CYD-OST)



Children and youth who participate in Out-of-School Time programs gain the personal, social, emotional, and educational assets needed to support healthy development, increase well-being, and facilitate a successful transition through childhood and adolescence, and into adulthood. 
The program’s practices fully meet the standard, as indicated by full implementation of the practices outlined in the Practice Standards.
Practices are basically sound but there is room for improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.
Practice requires significant improvement, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.
Implementation of the standard is minimal or there is no evidence of implementation at all, as noted in the ratings for the Practice Standards.
Self-Study EvidenceOn-Site EvidenceOn-Site Activities
  • A description of how the program welcomes all children and youth and promotes positive behavior and healthy peer relationships, including strategies for promoting social and emotional regulation and development
  • Program schedule/routine
  • Program rules and behavioral expectations
No On-Site Evidence
  • Interview:
    1. Program Administrator
    2. Site Director
    3. Program Personnel
    4. Children, youth, and families
  • Observe program space and activities
  • Observe interactions of children and youth with peers and personnel

CYD-OST 4.01

The program’s space, materials, and activities are designed to be welcoming to and supportive of all children and youth regardless of their background, race, ethnicity, culture, language, religion, socioeconomic status, gender identity and expression, sexual identity, sexual orientation, disability, or ability. 
Related Standards:


Diversity should be incorporated and embraced throughout all aspects of the program, from the pictures displayed, to the books read, to the games and music played, to the holidays celebrated, to the food served. 

CYD-OST 4.02

The program supports positive behavior by establishing a consistent routine that:
  1. is clearly communicated to children, youth, and families;
  2. supports achievement of the program’s goals;
  3. encourages active participation and engagement;
  4. provides stability and predictablity;
  5. includes time for children and youth to settle in and adjust upon arrival;
  6. facilitates smooth transitions and minimizes the need for waiting or rushing;
  7. allows children and youth to meet their physical needs (e.g., for water, food, or the restroom) in a relaxed way; and
  8. complements and extends the school-day routine, to the extent possible and appropriate.
Related Standards:


 The daily schedule should be posted at the program, and participants should be prepared in advance when changes or exceptions will occur.


Implementation of element (h) may be minimal if the program is not affiliated with a school.

CYD-OST 4.03

Children and youth are involved in developing rules and behavioral expectations that:
  1. establish clear expectations for interactions and behavior;
  2. are designed to encourage the development of a safe, caring, respectful, and inclusive environment that supports self-expression and learning;
  3. are appropriate to the ages and developmental levels of program participants, as well as to the goals of the program;
  4. are clearly communcated to all program participants; and
  5. are consistently upheld and implemented.
Related Standards:


Rules and behavioral expectations should ideally be written in positive language.  For example, as opposed to stating “Don’t run in the hall,” or “Don’t be mean,” positive phrasing would specify “Walk in the hall” and “Be kind to others.” Time should be set aside to discuss rules in order to ensure that children and youth understand expectations and limits.
Note: As noted in CYD-OST 1.03, personnel should inform children and youth, and their families, about program rules and expectations.

CYD-OST 4.04

In an effort to facilitate the development of peer relationships and foster a sense of community, children and youth are provided with opportunities to: 
  1. socialize with their peers; and
  2. participate in structured community-building activities such as introductions, icebreakers, or community circles.


Opportunities for socialization may be provided both within and between program activities.
Note: Helping children and youth develop the self-regulatory and social skills addressed in CYD-OST 4.05 through 4.07 will help to ensure that the peer interactions addressed in this standard are pro-social and supportive.
Some research suggests that providing opportunities for friends to get together may foster program participation. For example, teenagers put great emphasis on the importance of their peers, and are more willing to engage in programs when they are able to spend time with their friends. Accordingly, some programs serving older youth set aside designated space where teens can socialize with one another apart from younger program participants. 

CYD-OST 4.05

In an effort to help children and youth learn to self-regulate their emotions and behavior, personnel:
  1. model healthy strategies for expressing and managing emotions;
  2. help children and youth learn how to recognize and understand emotions and their causes and effects, including how emotions can influence thoughts and behaviors;
  3. help children and youth learn strategies for expressing and managing their emotions in an appropriate and constructive manner;
  4. provide opportunities for children and youth to practice handling their emotions in healthy and responsible ways; and
  5. offer coaching and guidance to help children and youth appropriately express and manage their emotions, as needed.


 Opportunities to practice handling and expressing emotions will likely occur within the context of program activities, as addressed in CYD-OST 8, as well as within the context of managing interpersonal conflicts and behavior-related challenges, as addressed in CYD-OST 5.

CYD-OST 4.06

Personnel support children and youth in developing empathy, openness, and respect for others by:
  1. explaining that all people are unique individuals;
  2. helping children and youth learn about diversity and difference, including diversity of perspectives, cultures, temperaments, needs, and abilities;
  3. modeling inclusiveness and respect for difference;
  4. teaching children and youth to be kind and stand up for others; and
  5. facilitating opportunities for children and youth to listen to and learn about the experiences, feelings, and perspectives of others.
Related Standards:


Personnel can facilitate opportunities for program participants to listen to and learn from one another by engaging children and youth in explicit discussions, as well as by encouraging children and youth to interact with their peers, including those who may be perceived as “different” (e.g., children and youth with special needs, children and youth with different personalities or temperaments, or children and youth who speak a different language).  In addition to learning about the experiences, feelings, and perspectives of peers and personnel, the program can also facilitate opportunities for children and youth to learn about the experiences of others by providing resources that illustrate different perspectives and cultures, or inviting guests with different backgrounds or experiences to visit the program.
Note: Ground rules that support safe expression, as addressed in CYD-OST 4.03, can help to promote the development of an environment where children and youth can safely share with, and learn from, their peers.

CYD-OST 4.07

Personnel use modeling, instruction, practice, and coaching to help children and youth develop interpersonal skills and knowledge that facilitate appropriate interactions and collaboration, including:
  1. treating others with fairness and respect;
  2. understanding social norms and cues;
  3. demonstrating an awareness of different perspectives and cultures;
  4. listening actively and deeply, without interrupting;
  5. effectively conveying their points of view; and
  6. resolving conflicts and disagreements.
Related Standards:
Note: Learning to regulate emotions and behavior and empathize with others, as addressed in CYD-OST 4.05 and 4.06, underlies and supports the development of the interpersonal skills needed to get along and collaborate effectively with others.