We have two young boys, and they are loads of fun. They are also loads of work, and they know how to push buttons and get in trouble. Our trouble, as parents, is trying to find the best way to punish the boys that gets the desired results of better listening and improved behavior.

In other words, we have to hit them where it hurts.

Some children do not respond well to time out. Others do not skip a beat if you spank them. Some children are filled with so much defiance and stubbornness that every confrontation seems destined to end in an hours-long standoff.

So what works best for you and your child? That's what we'll explore below.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you work to discipline your young kids in hopes of getting through to them, once and for all.

1. Keep an Open Mind

This is a situation where one-size-fits-all parenting does not work. The punishment levied against one of your children may have no effect at all on another. You must be willing to try new things and adapt to each child's personality, comfort level, and intellect.

2. Be Aware

Once the situation has resolved and things have calmed down, take a step back to analyze the interaction with your child. Pay attention to their demeanor and their language. Were there words said that give a clue as to how they reacted to your punishment or demands? Is there room for a change or an insight into how to discipline them in the future? What about their body language? Were there any clues there? If you take the time to weigh these questions immediately following the interaction, you may be able to gather a ton of info.

3. Talk to Others

You are not alone in this struggle. Your spouse, parents, best friends, pediatrician, and others might have suggestions that can help you determine punishment strategies. Remember, though, once you ask for advice you are giving others a window into your world. Some people can be judgmental so be cautious about who you share your challenges with.

4. Levels

It's probably a bad idea to use your most serious punishment right out of the gate. Before the next confrontation, have a game plan. If your child acts out and disobeys you, how will you respond? What is the punishment? For how long? What happens if she continues to disobey you? If you have an action plan in your mind you will be able to react calmly and handle the situation more appropriately. Also, not all transgressions deserve the same punishment. If you child hits or gets violent, that might require a more serious punishment than not listening or obeying a directive. Again, if you think of these things ahead of time and work through the scenarios in your mind, you will be more successful in disciplining your child.

5. Paper Tiger

If you continually threaten to punish your child and never do, your child will learn that you have no follow through. Guess what happens? They will walk all over you. It is difficult to punish your child. It is difficult to see them upset and in tears. It is difficult to be the bad guy. But in the grand scheme of things you are making life easier by punishing your child now. If you don't, any behavior problems may escalate until it's too late to do anything about them.

6. Use a Carrot Instead

I don't mean an actual carrot, unless your children love vegetables. I mean that sometimes it's important to flip this whole punishment thing on its' head. Maybe rather than punishing your child for bad behavior you need to reinforce positive behavior. For instance, our 2-year-old loves to climb out of his bed and leave his room 20-plus times during nap time. We debated how to handle it. One of our strategies is to develop a reward chart. For each day he stays in his bed he earns a sticker. He can redeem those stickers for treats or toys. Maybe we can will him into better behavior.

7. Try to Take Emotion Out

This might be the most difficult challenge of all — removing your emotion from the situation. When our kids act out and don't listen to us, we often times get angry. That leads to raised voices, yelling and things said in the heat of the moment. The situation only escalates from there. If you can keep your head, you will be in control of your feelings and in complete control of the situation. You'll be fully equipped to handle any challenge thrown your way.

8. Be Consistent

The most important thing you can do is to be consistent. If you punish one child for a transgression, you need to punish your other children for the same transgression in the future. Otherwise, you are creating a situation where your children will feel slighted and resentment will occur. Also, if you punish certain behavior one time, you must punish it again if it occurs in the future.

Sometimes we feel like we are disciplining and punishing our children all day long. Remember that our children will push boundaries and try to figure out what they can get away with. As parents, we have to decide which behavior crosses the line, be firm in our punishment and make sure our children know that we not are punishing them out of animosity but out of love and a desire to keep them safe.