Burrito has been having more tantrums now that she is getting older. And initially, I will admit, the sight of my child throwing herself down on the floor in rage intimidated me. What would I do to tame this tiny hurricane of emotion? Then I started to learn some things.
(Caveat: If I am tired or not feeling well, I go straight into reactionary mode and sometimes throw all of the suggestions I am going to give you out the window! I'm human too!)
First of all, I am learning that her tantrums are just her way to express her emotions. Feeling angry is not bad; it's just what you do with it. After all, being a child is difficult. When I get frustrated with her, I try to empathize with how little control she has over her life. I try to stoop down and look at the world through her perspective. She feels frustrated and she doesn't know what to do with that emotion. She is also self-differentiating from me (as Boundaries with Kids by Cloud and Townsend points out). It's my job to teach her more resources to use to express her emotions (but this is better done when she is not throwing a fit...can YOU really listen to constructive advice when you're really, really upset?).
The one training technique I DO use when she is throwing a fit is essentially to acknowledge the emotion and stay calm, but let her know that I'll engage with her again when she's done throwing a fit. The fit is not going to get her anything, including attention. I empathize with her feelings and I respect her need to express them, but I don't accept that that is a valid way to interact with Mom. Also, I've found that if I try to reason with her or desperately try to get her to STOP THROWING A FIT, it will only prolong the fit, because she is getting attention and power out of it.
You will not believe how well this works! She stamps her feet, screams and throws herself on the floor. I say to her, "Are you gonna throw a fit now? Ok, let me know when you're done!" Then I stay completely calm and ignore her. Inevitably, the fit is very, very short and she says, "Ok, I'm done.":-) It amazes me every time! She doesn't feel controlled. She doesn't get undue control out of the tantrum. Her emotions are respected but I am expecting respect for myself too. She calms down! It's AMAZING!
In calmer moments, I compliment her for positive expressing of emotion. Like when I tell her "no" she can't have candy and she says a quiet, "Awww!" instead of launching into a fit. I tell her that I appreciated she didn't throw a fit and she just expressed her emotions. (I think it's very important for her to know and understand her emotions, by the way. This will help her a great deal later in life. She just needs to learn to express them appropriately, in a way that is respectful to other people.) I also discuss with her what went wrong when she has a really bad response (like pulling hair, hurting Mom or Dad, throwing something, etc.). I explain why this is hurtful and unkind and remind her that she wouldn't like this done to her.
I hope these tips are helpful to you. You may have to try a few times if you've been interacting with your child's tantrums for a while. But I bet with some practice you can get some great results with your child as well!
Now, if I could just find as good a fix for whining!