The AftermathNo matter the scenario, once the hysterics subside, your child's likely to be exhausted and plenty unhappy with himself. He just lost control, and gaining control is often what much of the fuss is about in the first place. So resist the urge to lecture, blame, or punish. Instead, find something positive to say, like "You did a good job calming yourself down." Don't give in to any of his demands, but do give him a clean slate, then enjoy something relaxing together -- take a walk, read a book, mix a batch of cookies. Just don't pay him an unusual amount of attention, or he'll think that meltdowns are the best way to get your attention.
If your child's tantrums get worse, or are accompanied by frequent nightmares, regression, stomachaches, or headaches, talk to your pediatrician -- these may be signs of something more serious than an everyday developmental struggle. More likely, though, as your child matures and can better handle his growing independence, the sound and the fury will ease off -- if not completely, at least enough for you to catch your breath between episodes.