I always give a little giggle when Cultivating Home receives comments on how peaceful and serene our life is. It is a very happy life but hardly ever a quiet one. And every once in a while our little Spark decides to liven things up a bit more and let us know just how he feels about whatever is happening contrary to his will.
I am in no way an expert on the subject but here is what works for us.
1.) Remove the audience.
If we are in a public place we take the wee one away from the public. Whether this means leaving a cart full of groceries and letting the clerk know you'll be back in a while for it or a pile of library books on the counter.
If at home, putting the child in his bedroom away from siblings and letting him know he can come out just as soon as he uses his self control...
If the child tries to give himself an audience again, we pick him up and put him back in the room.
2.) We are big on teaching self control.
Before the tantrum ever happens we are always teaching our kids that God wants them to have self control and Mama and Papa want them to use self control. This applies to whining, yelling, arguing, and tantrums and a bzillion other things in life.
3.) Cut it off before it gets bad.
Pick a nice time to have a quick talk with your little one, maybe while you are cuddling on the couch or during bath time. We say, "Little Spark, you know how sometimes you get so mad that you want to yell and throw yourself on the floor? Well, you are getting to be much to big to do that so mama and Papa are going to help you use your self control. The next time you try to throw a fit, we are going to tell you to get up real quick and use your self control. I want to see how quick you can get up and do it, okay?"
The next time the tantrum starts, do this and congratulate the kiddo when he does get up and uses his big boy self control!
4.) Consequences, disciplines, corrections...
However you prefer to label it - every tantrum needs a consequence and restoration. The restoration comes with hugs and prayers and the kiddo apologizing to whoever is around for losing his temper. Lots of love here. Oodles of loving. Encouragement that the kiddo is big enough not to have to throw fits when he's upset, that he can use his big boy (girl) words to talk about what is wrong. You will love the response when you walk hand in hand back into the library to pick up your books and small one apologizes to the librarian. You'll need a spatula to scrape their jaws off the floor. Not many kids are taught to apologize, I guess.
Then the consequence. A loss of a privilege works great. What is your child's currency? Do they love dessert? Maybe the consequence for throwing tantrums in your home is no dessert. And I'm bad, real bad. That night, I'll take extra care to make a beautiful, luscious dessert. Oh, yes, I'm bad. I always tuck aside a portion for the wee one but he has to wait until the next day to have it. So I'm only half bad, right?
We've been lucky enough never to have any biters, scratchers, etc. so I have no wisdom to offer there. We have been kicked and hit. Putting the child by himself, on his bed until he calms down usually works. I'll usually sit in the doorway, quietly praying and thinking about how someday we'll laugh together over these times. The kiddo can see me and I'm close enough that its not a bother to get up and put him back on his bed if he gets up before he's settled down. If you have a child that hurts himself or herself, I'd consult your physician.
For more professional parenting wisdom:
Cloud and Townsend
Family Life Today
Focus on the Family