W Sitting is a sitting position where the child sits on her bottom with both knees bent, and her feet pointing outwards. If viewed from above, you will notice her legs and body look like the letter “W”.
It is one of many sitting positions that most children move into and out of while playing.
Why Do Children Sit in the “W” Position?
As a child, you have more hip rotation, making it easier to move into a W sitting position. Children with weak core muscles sometimes find W sitting more comfortable, as it adds stability.
The W sitting position lets kids play in an upright position, without worrying about falling over or needing to balance as much.
At what age is a child most likely to sit in a W position?
Usually between 4 to 6, but you may also see it at different ages.
Femoral anteversion, inward twisting of the thigh bone that causes the child’s knees and feet to turn inward, or have what is also known as a “pigeon-toed” appearance, tends to decrease after age 8. This reduces the likelihood a child will go into W sitting.
Why is it problematic for kids?
W-Sitting could lead to future orthopedic problems.
Crossed legs sitting, side-sitting, or sitting with your legs stretched out in front of you engages core strength. W-Sitting does not challenge the muscles in your back and abdomen. These muscles are important for the development of fine and gross motor skills, as well as maintaining balance and keeping an upright posture.
In a W-Sit, a child does not achieve appropriate active trunk rotation and it restricts developing adequate balance because the child is not able to shift weight and rotate. This could result in delayed bilateral coordination skills.
When playing in other sitting postures, children develop the trunk control and rotation necessary for midline crossing (ability to reach across the midline of her body by her arms and legs crossing over to the opposite side) and the efficient use of both sides of the body. These skills are needed for a child to develop refined motor skills and hand dominance.
What type of issues could show up?
When W-sitting becomes a habit and is done for continuous, prolonged periods, it can have long-ranging, negative health effects:
- Negatively impacting coordination, balance, and gross motor skills
- May lead to affecting the ability to perform table-top activities, such as writing
- Create difficulties in the development of hand preference
- Make it hard to shift weight from side to side
- Poor trunk rotation skills because in a W-sitting position, the trunk muscles are not used as much to keep the body upright
- Limited core strength because W-sitting position provides a wider base of support for the child which may be used to compensate for weak postural muscles
How to prevent W-sitting and What can you do?
Prevent it from becoming a habit. Be consistent and ask the child to change the sitting position. Praise the child’s posture when they are sitting in a different position.
Ask the child to sit in the “criss-cross applesauce” position.
If a child is unable to sit alone in any position other than a W, talk with a therapist about supportive seating or alternative positions, such as prone and sidelying.
(Last updated on April 16th, 2020)