Youth are capable agents with the capacity to engage with and shape issues pertinent to their lives. In the field of social development, we are witnessing an exciting increase in children and adolescent involvement in the research process. Youth-led participatory action research (YPAR) is one such method, encompassing youth participation in identifying pressing issues within their own communities, collectively gathering, and systematically analyzing data to understand the root causes of such issues, and organizing for social change informed by rigorous empirical evidence. YPAR provides an opportunity to strengthen our understanding of social development processes. Using three illustrative case studies from YPAR projects engaging elementary, high school, and college-age children and adolescents, I discuss the connections between YPAR as a mechanism for enhancing social developmental research designs, an intervention in and of itself fostering key social-emotional competencies, and a process for facilitating more equity-oriented scholarship. The paper concludes with strategies for how researchers new to YPAR may incorporate this practice into their research and key training considerations.