But you can help them think through a problem. Next time your child is getting really worked up, try this script...
I see you (fill in the blank with behavior)
Are you angry about something?
I see that you are angry.
What are you angry about? (Don't ask why they are angry. Ask for something more concrete like "what" "where" or "who")
What have you done about it?
Did that work?
What else are you willing to try?
Here is an example from a conversation with my daughter.
Me "I see you pouting and stamping your feet. You look angry.
Are you angry about something."
Me "I can see that you are angry. What are you angry about?"
Birdy "I'm angry because I want to play on the computer but my sister is on it and she won't let me play."
Me "What have you tried to do about it?"
Birdy "I told her to get off and I pushed her."
Me "Did that work?"
Birdy "No, she wouldn't move."
Me "What else are you willing to try?"
Birdy "I'll ask her nicely."
Having a concrete script that you use every time a child becomes escalated or seems to be displaying a huge reaction to a fixable problem helps the child to think through the situation, but it also keeps you calm. After a while this script becomes so routine that the child can anticipate what you are going to say before you say it. They may even start thinking about the answers to your questions before you ask them. The routine will keep you as the adult from feeling powerless against the situation too.
I need to say that this will only work on a child who is old enough to try and think about the situation. It won't work well on a tired two year old. I have had great successes with my 5 year old, my 13 year old, the high school students in my class, and even 37 year old adults!