We’ve all had the experience of being so engrossed in something (a book, an e-mail, an episode of “Dexter”) that we simply don’t hear our partner trying to remind us that the trash needs to go out. But when our children do the same, who else secretly believes they’re doing it on purpose?They’re not (and neither are you). Researchers in the Department of Developmental Psychology at Oxford set study participants to focusing on a task while wearing headphones playing white noise. Part way through the task, the researchers interrupted the white noise with an audible tone. When performing a more-difficult task (distinguishing which of two arms of a cross was longer), nearly 80 percent of the study participants said they never heard a thing.This “inattentional deafness disorder” actually had nothing to do with the pleasure involved in the distracting activity. It was the “high visual lode condition” of taking a lot in through a different channel that rendered the research subjects temporarily deaf. It’s not Harry Potter that’s the problem; it’s the intense visual and mental interaction necessary to read the words on the page.
I think we've all experienced it. Every time we try to ask our husbands their opinion on something while engrossed in a football/baseball/soccer/nascar/golf game on TV. I especially encounter it when the teenager daughter is watching her shows. She literally has no idea anything else in the world is going on.
I've always believed that it wasn't intentional ignoring, now I'm happy to know that it's truly not. I always make a point to wait for a commercial or page turn or some sort of break in activity. Then ask for undivided attention; pause the game/movie/etc, put the book down and look at me. Then repeat what I've said. This ensures that it was indeed heard and there are no excuses to not do it.
With the toddler I often have to pause it myself to get her attention, but the process is the same.