I recently read a wonderful article about tantrums and thought to pass on some of the ideas. The author examines the phenomenon of a tantrum as an opportunity for management rather than an unexpected tornado—even though it often seems like that.
The article began with picking battles; knowing when to engage and when to divert in order to prevent a meltdown. Let me point out that just because you do not engage in the battle does not mean the child gets what he wants. It means that you—as the adult—do not allow emotions to control you. You take a deep cleansing breath and move on to making breakfast. When the adult remains calm in the face of adversity, the child will eventually calm down. It helps to remind yourself "he is not giving me a hard time, he is having a hard time." These words help you to not take the outbursts personally.
I am not suggesting to ignore the situation, and not all consequences are logical or necessary. Trying to prevent issues before they happen will just cause more grief because constantly trying to "control" a situation before it even happens is exhausting. In the end, your physical response will be one of anger and it feelings of failure, and “if this situation doesn’t feel good to you, I’m sure it doesn’t feel good to him either.”
A child's tantrum is generally the result of feeling frustrated with the lack of control over some aspects of his life. It could range from not getting something as simple as grape jam to serious emotions stemming from an impending divorce. Children cannot always articulate their feelings. It helps to try and understand how they feel. It's ok for him to be disappointed because he couldn't have grape jam.
The best responses to counteract these emotional outbursts are remain calm and show him healthier ways of expressing his emotions. It won't happen overnight, so there is no need to punish yourself for feeling overwhelmed. Above all, show empathy and love. You will be surprised how much better you feel when you remain calm through the storm.