Children are more interested in concepts of mythology and the vanquishing of evil by good. They are relieved by the presence of God who is a protector for them. When we correct their behavior and mention that God is going to be upset with a lie or cheating, they imbibe it. Kids love prayers and lighting the lamp in front of God. Compulsion of faith or any kind of dogma would not be the right way to help them pray.
Prayer has to be taught as a form of communication with a higher being i.e. God. This forms the base for the child to express to the Almighty when we are not around or open up their heart desires in the form of prayer. Hindu mantras and rites have scientific explanations and yet again there is great peace felt when we bow down simply before God. Faith is only a medium and there are wonderful stories about Jesus Christ and the virtues of Allah.
Showing them the path of prayer to communicate their feelings to God is a wonderful gift to children. Grandparents usually inculcate their grand children towards chanting shlokas, lighting a candle and performing the traditional puja in idol worship. Meditation is a form of prayer where the thoughts are calmed and expressed genuinely. Let children say their own prayers. It would a great way to teach them prayers in English or Sanskrit but again support it with an explanation.
The best way to teach them to pray is after the ritual morning bath. Kids love prasad and this can be explained as a blessing from God. Tell them God is happy with the way they help their parents or care for animals. As kids graduate from one class to another, their maturity level also increases and they come up with questions about God and his existence. Prayers have to felt and not just recited. Teaching prayers within a bedtime story is a wonderful way to teach a child.
Each festival in Indian culture has a story and significance. A special prayer is said for each occasion. Let them chant a travel prayer. There are excellent prayers in the Catholic religion for healing, travel and gratitude. Encouraging children to say a good night prayer to God will become habitual and this will prove beneficial for them in the long run. Choosing a medium of prayer or faith should not be dictated by parents. ‘All path leads towards God’ is the ultimate truth.