When a child has a temper tantrum, he/she is trying to communicate a need. It’s your job as a parent to figure out the need, teach the child a better way of asking for it, and avoid confrontation. Here’s Dr. Phil’s plan for taming temper tantrums:
1. Uncover the Need
Remember that all behavior is a way of communicating. When your child is screaming or throwing himself on the floor, that behavior is his/her way of attempting to tell you about a need. It’s your job to figure that need out. Does he need some autonomy? Does he need to feel safe, accepted, loved or appreciated? Just some quiet time because he’s been over-scheduled? Once you understand your child's needs, you can meet him in more effective ways instead of trying to simply maintain power over him.
2. Manipulate the Schedule
You know your schedule and you know your child's schedule. Plan ahead if you anticipate a temper tantrum. For example, if your child throws a fit because he doesn't like you picking out his clothes for him, don't pick his clothes and fight about it five minutes before you have to leave the house.
3) Stand Your Ground and Walk Away
When your child has a temper tantrum, you have an opportunity to show the child that behavior is futile. “Take the power away from them by showing them that that behavior doesn’t work,” suggests Dr. Phil. You might say: "There are some things that Mommy decides, and you get to decide other things.” You should attempt to avoid confrontation, but when you do have one, never lose. You are the parent and decision maker, not the other way around.
Bottom line: If you listen to your child's needs instead of the awful racket he's making, you can better control the behavior and teach the child better ways of getting what he needs.