Closet listening is a valuable Positive Discipline tool for bringing yourself into your child's world. The idea is that you take some time regularly to spend some time in close proximity to your child without an agenda or conversation directed at them. If your child talk, just listen without judgement, or approval or criticism.
As children get older, they begin to have more and more of a life independent of their parents. When we question them about this aspect of their life, even in a friendly way, they are often reluctant to open up and share great detail. My 6 year old is already demonstrating some of this. When we ask her questions about school, friends, play dates, etc. we are often given one word answers. Sometimes when I pick her up from school I feel like a detective trying to get some clues out of her regarding her day. I sometimes find myself telling her that I want to hear about her day and then I think she feels obligated to tell me something even if she didn't really feel like sharing.
Other times my husband or I will try to make conversation with her at dinner by asking about specific parts of her day. If we accidentally get the name of something or someone wrong she seems really irritated. I guess a little less talking and more listening would serve us well in this situation.
The other day when I picked her up from school, I decided not to ask anything other than, "How was your day?" As we walked she sand some songs, asked what was for dinner and then skipped along quietly. When we got home she sat down at the dinner table to work on her homework while I prepped some things for dinner very nearby in the kitchen. It was only about five minutes before she started telling me all about her day. She shared much more than I usually get from her during my usual after school interview. What a difference!
This is a simple tool, but I can see how this could be very effective as my children grow more and more independent. When they feel as though they are in control of the conversation, they feel less interrogated and more like a respected member of the family. In the end we are all happier, we get the info we want and our children feel respected and safe in sharing with us, knowing we aren't judging them.