Our son has been making some really bad choices lately and we don't know how to help him anymore. A few weeks ago he was playing with his new multitool from scouts but was running in the yard with it and threatening kids in the yard and stabbing trees, we were quickly alerted to this from his older sibling and stopped the behavior and had a conversation about safety and violence and fear.
Last week he and his younger brother(3 years) were "play fighting" and he used his size and strength to "beat" his younger brother with a baseball bat. We of course removed the bat and he was sent to time out and grounded. Often he takes things that arent his without permission, sometimes breaking them and hiding them. During a tour of the fire department he was being "goofy" with his friends and laughingly tried to make a joke about blowing up the school (I don't think he realized what he was saying). We had a POINTED conversation about the violence and dangers of what he was saying. Yesterday he found some brake clean in the garage and sprayed it all over some foam. I'm assuming he thought it looked cool since it was melting but severely dangerous. We've tried grounding him, taking away video games, all electronics, no TV, took all the toys out of his room, took away all his toy weapons and nerf guns. He is active in sports and other extra curricular activites. We've tried tough love, and we've tried just more love. We've tried reward systems and extra one on one attention. We've tried positive praise and encouragement. I'm afraid for him and I don't know what else to do. I know part of it is just typical boyhood curiosity, but it's like literally every day he's getting into something, or screwing off or misbehaving. We wondered if he was angry about his bio dad leaving when he was 3, but my husband has been in his life for so long, he's had a stable adult male in his life. It's discouraging that our extended family's first suggestion is always counseling. There has to be other ways we can address this or investigate more before therapy.
He struggles in school too, with not raising his hand, reluctant to follow instructions, dawdling hoping he won't have to finish an assignment or station. He gets along well with other kids, he's happy, kind. He eats well, he sleeps well, he gets lots of physical activity and lots of opportunity to learn and experience things. We have several family members close by. I'm just at my wits end. Thank you.