I loathe this word for all the connotations attached to it such as terrible twos, tantrum threes, feisty, or even badly behaved. These are labels that are often give to children. If you were to walk down most town or city centres on a weekend evening you are likely to find several adults full of alcohol either having or picking a fight. Whilst the fuel for this is often alcohol, the underlying reasons are the same as a young child's. We don't however call this a tantrum.
A tantrum is a sign that a child is helpless, feeling controlled and aggravated, lost his sense of autonomy or is unable to change that which cannot be changed. It can also be a healing process, a way of releasing emotions. It goes without saying that the way you as a parent deal with it, it really important.
If a child has any of these feelings when you are out and about and others see you, it is so common to get looks of pity, or tut tutting, or other unhelpful comments. It is easy as a parent to think that we should be trying to stop this, without thinking about the needs of your child. The only need that is being met by stopping or changing the behaviour is your own, with complete disregard for that of your child. You are the one who thinks that your image as a parent in the eyes of others is being harmed.
We need to tune into our children, let them grow, flourish and learn at their own pace, keep them safe by giving them boundaries. We need to think about what may have caused our child to feel helpless etc and be there for them. There may also be an underlying reason, they want to feel secure and valued. We can help them move beyond the helplessness without distraction, to learn to face disappointment and hurt with strength.