Oh, we've all been there!!
I definitely use time out and spanking, but I find that taking away privileges often works better for my kids. If they act out in the middle of playing a game, they lose the privilege of playing the game. If their favorite lunch treat is string cheese, but they throw food on the floor, they lose the privilege of string cheese. If they throw a fit about getting the legos out, then they won't be able to play legos until tomorrow. If they try to stand up in the stroller, they lose the privilege of riding without the straps. I try to take away privileges that are natural consequences, so it's an immediate impact.
When the kids are young, I also do a lot of redirecting behavior. If I sense that they're about to get in trouble, I try to redirect them to a positive choice. If I notice that their energy is getting out of control, I try to redirect them to a calmer or more focused activity. Sometimes they insist on the poor decision, and we have to discipline. But often they are easily swayed to do something else. That way I'm not always disciplining them!
Laura Armistead counseled me years ago to focus on 2-3 discipline issues at a time. Be willing to let other things slide a little bit, so you're not constantly correcting them, but really focus on respect, or first time obedience, or kindness, or whatever your child is struggling with. That tip has really helped my sanity at times!!
I'm also a big believer in praising good behavior - see notes here
Three of my favorite parenting books:
Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman (Based on Shepherding a Child's Heart) (my notes are here)
Creative Correction by Lisa Welchel
Parenting with Scripture (especially starting at age 3-4) by Kara Durbin (see my notes here)
Honestly, though, the biggest thing I've learned is to beg God for mercy, patience and wisdom. I know he gives me parenting trials so that I will depend on him. If I had easy children, I know I would be 100% autonomous, never leaning on God for guidance, strength or direction. But my struggles send me crawling on my knees to Christ, seeking his strength and love. I know it sounds trite, but God has taught me so much through the trials of parenting!!
Blessings to you!!
So, how would YOU answer Rhonda's question? What discipline strategies work best for your young children? What parenting books do you recommend?