A while back I read an article that challenges the distraction technique. It stated that distracting is just a way to avoid confrontation, and that conflict management is a skill that children have to acquire too. Where I do agree that it is necessary for children to assimilate conflict resolving skills, I don't know if we should be generating conflict just for the sake of it, and I sure don't think we should toss out the distraction technique.
Distraction can be a great tool when dealing with younger children, who do not have the capacity to deal with conflict, and who aren't verbal enough to engage in something like negotiation. As quoted from Peaceful Parenting:
Distraction is a wonderful, often underused technique. It activates the seeking system in your child's lower brain and makes him feel curious and interested in something. It can naturally override the brain's rage or distress systems. It also triggers a high level of dopamine, a great positive arousal chemical in the brain, which reduces stress and triggers interest and motivation. (1)So not only is distraction a technique that will make life easier, it is actually beneficial for your child. I think it's important to asses the situation: a 1 year old will not understand why he cannot open the cupboard with the beautiful shiny glasswork, but he can open the cupboard of his to kitchen. In this situation distraction is a valid method. As I mentioned before, creating conflict for the sake of it is not a great lesson for your child either.
WHen the child gets older, you may be able to tell him not to open the cupboard because the glass could break. Or to open the cupboard but be careful because he might get cut.
It is necessary to parent age-appropriate, instead of just following a strict set of guidelines.
Now about the topic of conflict management: distraction is not a foolproof technique. There are times that you as a parent will have to resort to other methods. There are times, specifically when your child gets older, his mental capabilities evolve and he gets more verbal, that you will get into a conflict situation.
So instead of creating these situations because you do not want to avoid conflict, wait for them to occur naturally (I promise you, they will), and then deal with them accordingly.
(1) Tackling Distress Tantrums with Brain Research, Peaceful Parenting, Jan. 2010