So…. What is wrong with W-sitting?
by Marie Toole, MS, OTR/L
This is a question I often hear from both parents and teachers alike.
“My child always sits like that. What is so bad about it? What can I do to help?”
What is W-sitting and why does my child do this?
W-sitting is often a position that young children choose to use when sitting on the ground or the floor. Children will place their knees close together and their ankles splayed out along side their hips so that their legs look like a “W” when their bottom is on the floor. Often this is due to low tone, joint laxity (movement in the joints), or poor trunk/core strength. Sometimes it is just a habit, one that we do not want to continue. By having this large base of support under them, many children have more support for those weak core muscles, therefore making it easier to sit upright without having to do too much work. Hence, this is why it is often their “go-to” sitting position, and can become a tough habit to break.
Why is it so bad for my child?
W-sitting may lead to hip tightness or possibly hip dislocation. Young children who continually sit in this position for extended periods of time are asking for long-term trouble in the ankle, knee, and hip down the road. W-sitting inhibits trunk rotation (twisting and turning to get a toy or play with something) and shifting their weight side-to-side. Twisting and turning the trunk promotes crossing the midline their hands and balance skills throughout the trunk. Shifting weight assists in balance and core stability. Often times, poor coordination and clumsy movements develop due to the limiting factors of this poor posture.
How can I help my child?
The best way to prevent W-sitting is to discourage it from the beginning. Encouraging other sitting positions such as criss-cross, long sitting, side sitting, half kneeling or even using a small chair if the hips are tight are all good alternatives. Being consistent with correcting as well as suggesting alternative sitting postures will only help your child to develop proper sitting postures that promote growth, flexibility, and appropriate development. In the classroom, teachers will monitor this and suggest seating alternatives. Being consistent and doing the same at home will enhance your young child’s growth and development.
Marie L. Toole, MS, OTR/ L, is a pediatric occupational therapist with 28 years experience in NICU, Early Intervention, and private practice with the last 20 years spent working in public schools. She is NBCOT and SIPT certified as well as a member of AOTA and NHOTA. She lives in southern New Hampshire and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MarieTooleOTNH, on Pinterest marietooleNHOT, and on School Tools for Pediatric Occupational Therapists where she tweets, pins, and posts about OT, education, autism, and sensory integration, as well as other school related topics.*Movement RX, Dr. Theresa Larson, DPT http://www.movement-rx.com Disclaimer: The information shared on the Go-To-For-OT Blog or affiliated Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest sites, and shared on social or public media or as links on other sites is for general informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice or evaluation and care from your physician/medical team or any other qualified health care providers. Therefore, the authors and administrator of these posts take no responsibility for any liability, loss, or risk taken by individuals as a result of applying the ideas or resources. Photos are the property of the contributors of Pixabay and their use should include the link provided to the photographer’s source.