I think there is no specific ways, not necessarily right or wrong, hard or easy, but you have to be on your toes and change your strategies all the times.
In my experience, kids need structure and routine. For disciplining though, I think sometimes they need to know the consequences of their actions and sometimes they just need to be distracted to something else. If you keep bugging them on a specific thing, without knowing it you just make them more attracted to that thing.
I once read that parents should be in alliance with their children and help them get out of trouble not waiting for them to do something wrong to punish them and get them in trouble. If the children know and understand that their parents want them out of trouble and will help them to do that, everything works out better when they grew up.
They will know that their parents are on their side, so they will tell them their stories and ask them for help when needed.
I have a two and half year old son, I used to be hard on him, would get in to argues with him and give him time out several times a day. I noticed that his behaviour is getting worst and he just does things in spite of me. I was doing some research to find a way to solve this problem when I find this phrase