The most effective method for teaching anything to a child is by being a good role model. Allah sent human beings to teach people Islam. These were our prophets. Our children learn by watching us and our actions search louder than words. Think about it, if a father treats his wife poorly, his sons will mimic that behavior as adults. None one is saying you should bombard with religion at every opportunity but you should practice what you preach. Think about the father who does not attend Friday prayer and sells alcohol for a living, but wonders why his son is dressing like the latest rapper and disrespecting his mother. The focus here isn’t religion; it is practice. Religion starts with practice and then moves into teaching.
We teach our children with every action or decision we make. Therefore, taking inspiration from an anonymous authored poem, if we teach our children to criticize, then they learn just that. If we teach them to ridicule, they either learn that behavior or learn to be shy. If we teach them to be hostile, either we ruin their self-esteem or we think them to fight. More importantly, if we teach them to be tolerant, patient, fair, and secure, we teach them faith.
Negative attitudes turn into negative characteristics in our children, whereas positive turn into positive characteristics. There are the very attitudes that our Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) taught his followers all those hundreds of years ago. These are the very teachings we need to instill in our children. Children are good and they want to please their parents. Praise results in positive behaviors, but if parents do not praise and only respond to bad behavior, the opposite is true.
Going back to the subject of practice, raising your children to be Muslims means introducing the idea of Allah in their lives and reminding them that Allah is content with their actions. If you do this often, children will associate good behavior with Allah and that is the first step in being a good Muslim.
Understand that children are not bad; they are merely children. Allah always forgives children and if a child passes away in childhood, he or she automatically goes to heaven. Allah has asked of us to guide our children and he will guide us. Thus, do not make your children fearful of Allah or Islam or of going to hell. This approach achieves the opposite of your goals. If you focus too much on punishing children, then they will not want anything to do with religion because they would believe that it keeps them from enjoying their lives.