Some children have short bursts of crying, that subside by themselves when their body starts producing serotonin, while others may last longer. Some children even become more distraught, and hysterical, as the tantrum progresses.
A good idea, if your child tends to have long, drawn out tantrums and take ages to calm down, is to get them involved in more physical activity every day. This helps the body to produce more serotonin, and you will find it easier to calm them when a tantrum does strike.
If the conventional wisdom of simply ignoring the tantrum does not seem to be working, you might find that holding or soothing your child early on in the tantrum has a better effect. Distracting a child that is on the verge of a tantrum – with a toy or fun activity – is another way to head off tantrums before they start.
Whatever you do though, don’t respond with anger – it will only make the tantrum worse.