Introducing W sitting
W sitting is when children feel most comfortable by turning their legs outwards and backwards in the shape of a “W”. As a parent, teachers, or caregiver, this seated position might make you worry and wonder a bit. Is this okay? Should they be sitting this way? How can I encourage them to sit properly? Lucky for you, we are here to explain the problems with W sitting and give you tips to help that little W sitter of yours!
- Unlike other seated positions, when a child is sitting in a W position his legs provide a wide base of support, requiring very little activation of the core muscles. The W position may be a sign of low tone and/or trunk muscle weakness, which can lead to difficulty doing many gross and fine motor tasks, potentially leading to trouble sitting for longer durations in school.
- W-sitting is a more static position, rather than a dynamic one. In this position, kids cannot easily lean in different directions or rotate their trunks, they are therefore not fully engaging with their environment in a developmentally appropriate way.
- Even if there is no underlying cause for W-sitting, it can put stress on the hips and knees, potentially causing joint problems later in life.
- If your child is only an occasional W-sitter, it’s unlikely there will be any long lasting effects, however trying to remind your child to change positions is still a good idea to prevent the position from becoming more habitual.
How Can We Help?
- Prompt your child with a hand signal or manual reposition. Place his legs straight out front (long sitting), bend them by her side (side sitting) or advance to criss-cross applesauce (tailor sitting), which are all great alternatives.
- Use a verbal reminder and gently tell your child to “fix your feet” early on.This can help break the habit and encourage her to become more comfortable in other positions.
- Encourage lots of gross motor movement. Crawling during play, climbing on playground equipment, squatting and standing to clean up toys, animal walking to go down a hallway (bear walking, crab walking, frog jumping, bunny hops), yoga poses, and obstacle courses to build up strength in the core and hips.
Kids may W-sit because of weaker core muscles or out of habit. It’s best to prompt your child out of this position to encourage the use of trunk muscles and prevent joint pain at the hips and knees later on. If you suspect your child’s core is weak, add in some strengthening exercises on a weekly basis. Crawl through tunnels, jump on a trampoline, or practice some yoga poses! If your child is only an occasional W-sitter and often sits in other positions, it’s good to continue with reminders, but it’s unlikely there will be any lasting effects.