What 3 Factors Professionals Need

To Understand With Challenging Youth


Ignoring even one of these factors can lead to poor long-term outcomes

general list of 3

Joey is eight years old and in second grade. He already has a reputation as being disruptive.

The principal, Ms. Green, jokes that he has frequent flyer miles to her office.

She is very frustrated with Joey. He never stops and thinks before reacting to a situation or a person.

She feels he is ODD and maybe also ADHD.

She wants the parents to have him evaluated, but they never follow through.

She wonders if they even understand what is happening in school. They seem to care more about how these visits disrupt their day.


But what does Ms. Green understand about Joey and his family?

Is she aware they are living out of their car since they can't afford an apartment?

They have no way to pay the first and last month's rent as a deposit.

They have enough trouble finding money for food and gas to get to work.

Dad works two jobs, Mom works one, and then cares for the kids the rest of the time.

Joey and his two siblings struggle with homelessness and food insecurity.

He doesn't get quality sleep, sharing the car's back seat with his siblings.

He has disrupted sleep due to muggings and drug deals outside their car windows.

These realities in Joey's life are just one of the 3 factors that make up Joey.



There is one statistic that stands out for at-risk children.

                                                           One in six

This is the number of children and adolescents who are at risk for life failures:

  • They have many adverse life events.
  • They have food or home insecurity.
  • They are born with a neurodevelopmental disorder.
  • They have mental health disorders (October Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) 2020 Brief).

A June 2020 HRSA Brief noted that one child or adolescent in three had experienced at least one ACE (adverse life experience.)

These experiences put children and adolescents at risk for lifelong physical and mental health problems.

But these facts are only touching on the issues. They don't discuss the interplay among the three factors which are part of each child's life and the need for balance among the interventions to avoid making the situation worse for the child or adolescent.


Do You Know What The Three Factors Are?

Thanks to research into child development, behavior, and mental health over the last 100 years, it has become apparent that three factors influence child growth and behavior:

  • The child's temperament
  • The child's development/biology
  • The child's environment (home and world)

Temperament - traits of behavioral and emotional responses to immediate situations. These traits are inherited and range from highly affecting and minimally affecting the child's response at any time.

Development/biology - the range of differences in how children show skills and areas of struggle.

One child in six is affected with impaired brain-based development known as neurodevelopmental disorders. Also, if a child has one condition, the odds increase that he will have more than one.

The child's environment - the impact of the home, school, and community on the level of safety, confidence, and acceptance a child feels.

Considering these three factors is essential when working with a child or adolescent.

As Joey's story noted, this doesn't always occur, leading to labeling or mislabeling a child due to behaviors alone.



What is the harm in mislabeling a child?

  • How about harsher discipline?
  • Lowered expectations?
  • Being marginalized due to "mental health" diagnoses?

I have had patients prelabeled by their schools as oppositional, defiant, unintelligent, and lazy. Based on only one dimension of understanding, this labeling led to the wrong types of interventions.

 Here are two students who were inaccurately labeled, which led to adverse outcomes:

  • Like the kindergartener being punished for making faces at his teacher. It turns out he had Tourette's Syndrome.
  • Or the student labeled as mildly intellectually disabled. When he struggled with reading, they didn't pursue it. He turned out to have severe learning disorders which were not addressed. With tutoring, he gained three grades in reading in one year.

Unfortunately, children and adolescents like these two suffer from mental health struggles due to experiences that didn't actually address their strengths and struggles and the 3 factors.



Early understanding why a child is struggling is critical if professionals can maximize help for the child and family.

Consider this:

According to the CDC, at 4 years of age, one child in 99 has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

But if you look at the numbers for those at age 8, it is one child in 44.

Is that a problem?

Definitely! These older diagnosed children developed many more issues.

By the time these students were diagnosed with ASD, they had already received several other labels, such as ADHD, ODD, OCD, and LD.

These children were getting in trouble for social skill delays.

Many were bullied or frequently chastised by teachers and parents for immature or inappropriate behavior.

And this is just looking at only one of the three factors that affect child and adolescent social, emotional, and academic learning.



Hello, my name is Patricia McGuire (or Dr. Pat to the children I have cared for.) I am a developmental and behavioral pediatrician who has spent my career helping challenging children and adolescents.

In my 30+ years of seeing patients and 20+ years of training educators, physicians, psychologists, and social workers, I have found that most professionals focus on behaviors or DSM criteria in their decision-making.

These are not specific to the 3 factors. Instead, they are farther down on the decision tree based on observable behaviors without looking at why these behaviors are occurring.

For example, how would you label the child who argues and refuses to follow commands?

Oh, that's Oppositional Defiant Disorder, right?

Not necessarily. It could be due to the trait of adaptability in temperament. The slow-to-adapt children and adolescents get anxious if they have to change gears too fast to understand a perspective different from their own or their families. They need time to understand and receive answers to what I call the "why questions."

It could be due to language comprehension or autism issues.

It could be an internal fear due to frequent betrayals by others, leading to physical or emotional injuries.

It could be symptoms of PTDS, anxiety, or depression.



I have taught many professionals and parents about the 3 factors over the last 20 + years, leading to better outcomes and improved family relationships.

I have worked to make it understandable to professionals and parents. Increased understanding allows for better communication as both work to improve the lives of children and adolescents.

Before parents and professionals can expect to help a child successfully,

  • they must understand these three factors.
  • they need to know how the factors overlap and influence each other.
  • they need to understand how these three factors influence how you (parent or professional) behave and think.

My course, Never Assume: Know Children Before Labeling Them, will provide foundational knowledge of these three factors.

You will create a picture of your child in each factor through questionnaires and forms that you complete and what you learn through the lectures. There will also be tools to see how you fit into these three factors, to understand why you react or respond in certain ways. You will begin to appreciate how much your child looks to you for the sense of safety and attachment that will allow him to develop his social, emotional, and behavioral skills.

You will be able to see beyond the behavior to the factors that make him feel scared, frustrated, and therefore oppositional and defiant toward you.

With the knowledge you gain through this course, you will be able to guide the child through his struggles in life, confident that you have his back and that he is willing to trust you.

Never Assume is divided into 3 sections, temperament, development/biology, and environment. There will be discussions on what happens with the child within each factor and how to address their struggles.


First, We Love Them (Temperament)

Temperament is a two-way street


Next, We Accept Them (Brain Development)

Accepting Our Children, No Matter How They Develop


Finally, We Must Respect Them (Environmental Factors)

Sticks & Stones Can Break Our Bones AND Words Can Break Our Spirit

How to Connect with Your Child's 3 Levels



The Never Assume program is not a substitute for programs such as Social-Emotional Learning (SEL), PBIS, and MTSS.

Never Assume fits neatly into both the universal screening aspects of these programs and the support components.

It allows for more truly individualized supports for the students, whether they have only a few issues and would be a Tier 1 intervention or if they need Tier 3 support.


Over the decades that I have taught these skills, professionals have paid over $180 for a 6-hour presentation.

Parents and their insurance companies would pay $160 per hour.

But that's not what I am charging for Never Assume!

This course is just over 2 hours long, focusing on helping you understand each factor more deeply.

It helps you understand each child or adolescent more thoroughly.

It is intended to be used with behavioral supports and intervention programs to address the needs of students with behavioral, emotional, and learning struggles more completely.

I want you to understand and use this information!

I want you to create more completely individualized supports and interventions!

So, I am only charging $29.99 for this course.


If you don't find this program explains "Who" your child is so that you begin to pause and think about how to respond, there is a 10-day money-back guarantee.

But I think you will find this course helpful, as did parents and professionals who I shared this knowledge with in the past.

Check out what others have said about understanding these factors.



As parents have written over the years, the answers are worth the time to learn. Here is a comment by one of the parents who had worked with me while I was practicing.

"Our son has been seeing Dr. McGuire for the past ten years. During that time, she has helped us understand him, how his mind processes information, and why he has certain behaviors. She quickly and accurately determines why something is happening and is wonderful at explaining it so parents and teachers can understand. She has helped us not only understand our son, but the information and resources she has provided have helped us be strong advocates for our son at school. 

Thank you so much, Dr. McGuire."


As I taught different aspects of these 3 factors, professional evaluations over the years have also been very positive.

Kirkwood Community College training attendees wrote:

  • "Very informational."
  • "She really helped me understand some of the behaviors I see in kids."
  • "Dr. McGuire's knowledge and experience is incredible."


Central Iowa Case Management Conference:

"Thank you for your excellent presentation at the Case Management Conference. We learned a lot and new ways to approach working with children with behavioral and mental health issues.


Especially appreciated the interesting way you presented the information and data and the

related personal stories of your family and other families with which you have worked."


Linn Adams, Director

Central Iowa Case Management



Now is the time to learn about these foundational factors, which lead to children's and adolescents' behavioral, learning, and social-emotional skills.

Understand how choice of approaches to these factors can either improve or worsen a child's potential.

You will be able to use the knowledge immediately, integrating this knowledge into assessments and interventions for the youth you are working with.

You will also discover your own 3 factors and if they could benefit from support and interventions, especially if they clash with the youth you are working with.

Click the link and access this training right away. It doesn't matter if you won't see a client/student tomorrow or not until the Fall.

In the course, you will cover:

  • Temperament's role in a child's responses to the world around him
  • The impact of developmental issues on behavior, learning, and social interaction
  • The impact of home, school, and community-based issues on the availability for children and adolescents to learn and be able to self-regulate themselves

And you will be able to integrate this knowledge into your current programs for assessing and providing behavioral supports and interventions.

You will be glad you invested $29.99 to understand the backdrop for the challenges you have experienced with these youth.

If you are not totally satisfied, you have ten days to request a refund.

But I believe you will find this valuable in how you approach the assessment and interventions.

P.S. Remember, the forms and questionnaires can be used with each child or adolescent you consider for services—no extra costs ordering and paying for them repeatedly.


YES! I want to know the 3 factors now.