When your child sits on the floor you may notice a tendency for them to “W” sit. Is this typical? Is this bad? If so, what are some simple strategies you can use at home to address this?
A simple Google Search will tell you that this topic can be a little controversial. The truth is, we just don’t know for sure as there hasn’t been a lot of research on the implications or affects of sitting in this position, especially in the population of typically developing kids.
Why Do So Many Therapists Cringe?
Your child may seem like a happy camper in this position, but here are a few reasons, theoretically, why W sitting will often get placed on the “bad list”:
- It doesn’t require much core muscle activity or strength to maintain this position, so in theory, your child can turn off muscles when sitting in this position.
- Moving or transitioning out of this position for play compared to other alternatives.
- It may encourage more inward rotation of the femur (long bone of the leg) putting more pressure on the hips. Internal rotation of these bones is part of normal development, however hanging out at “en-range” is not ideal for either children or adults for prolonged periods of time.
When, and How, to Address It:
Because this is a controversial topic among medical professionals, you may be wondering if it’s something you should care about. Occasionally, a preference to sit in a “W” position may be the result of low muscle tone or a developmental delay. If your child is behind in motor milestones and/or has difficulty safely maintaining positions that are considered “typical” for their age range, you should bring this up with their pediatrician.
If you’re child is “in-toeing” significantly when walking, encouraging other positions that may help strengthen core and hip muscles may be of benefit.
Here are some strategies that may help:
- Asking, or encouraging them to change positions (this is often the most common solution I’ve found while reading about this topic)
- Giving other positions a cool name (ie, “criss-cross applesauce”)
- Demonstrating other sitting positions when playing with your child. Get those mirror neurons firing!
- Have your child sit on a small seat, dyna disc, or cushion when playing on the floor.
Also, Consider Toy Placement:
Place more “stationary” toys or activities either on a desk or table. This position, called “high kneel” is a great position for activating core and hip muscles.
Make puzzles or games more active!
- Place the board up high and the pieces on the ground to encourage squats.
- Hide the pieces all around the house or yard.
- Encourage them to lie on their tummy.
- Make them a part of an obstacle course!
Tape paper to color or place stickers on a vertical surface like the wall or an easel. This is a great way to make a stationary activity more active!
A Quick Personal Story:
As a Physical Therapist, but also a mother of a stubborn “W” sitter, I believe in a moderate approach. I often cringe a little when I see my child sitting in this position and try to encourage other positions. One of the primary reasons I care is because functionally, my daughter in-toes a lot. I did this growing up, and quite honestly still have to remind myself to point my toes forward when I walk! So as a therapist, I just want to do what I can to nudge her in the right direction! For us, verbal cues and encouragement were not very successful. It seemed that the more I encouraged her not to, the more she wanted to sit in that position (perhaps training for the teenage years I suppose)!
The “toy placement” strategy has been by far the most successful approach for us. We pick and choose our battles!
Give it a try and let us know if it works for you. If you have any good tips or suggestions feel free to share/comment!
Looking for More Information?
Check out this podcast on “W” Sitting by Tots on Target.
W Sitting: Is It Really a Problem Healthline
Perform activities recommended by Walk, Talk, Play at your own risk with appropriate adult supervision provided. Walk, Talk, Play is not responsible for any injury caused while performing these play activities.
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