W Sitting Position is a sitting position where the child will sit on the bottom with both knees bent and feet positioned outside of their hips. If viewed from above, you will notice the 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 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 Sitting position?
Usually between 4 to 6, but you’ll also see it with younger and older kids.
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?
It 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 Position 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 sitting, a child cannot achieve active trunk rotation and cannot develop 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 the body with the arms and legs crossing over to the opposite side) and separation of the two 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 children W sit for extended lengths of time?
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
- Could lead to affecting the child’s ability to perform table-top activities such as writing
- Create difficulties in development of hand preference
- Make it hard for a youngster to shift their weight from side to side.
- Poor trunk rotation skills: in a W sitting position, the trunk muscles are not used as much to keep the body upright.
- Limited core strength: 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 by being consistent and asking the child to change their sitting position and praising 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 side lying.