I used to think that pruning plants and shrubs were highly technical and difficult tasks best left to the experts. I would read about how you need to prune to an outward facing node and look at the tangled mass of branches and wonder where do I start? With more forgiving shrubs like lavender and spirea and gardenias (which I tend to prune to keep in a topiarized round shape) I take out my garden shears and just cut back.
The real trick to pruning is to do it EARLY and prune hard
How does that work? I think most of us tend to get plants home from the nursery, plant them and then let them grow much on their own. If you are intending on getting a nice shaped plant, you need to start pruning them young, that way, they won’t have already established an upright form. Unless you are planning on one of those lollipop topiaries in which case you want that upright straight ‘stick’ before you start the pruning.
Similarly with children. The earlier you start to prune them, correcting their thoughts and attitudes, the higher the likelihood that you will get the shape that you require. Naturally there are some plants (and children) who seem to need more pruning than others but the lesson is the same.