Do you cringe when you see your child sitting in a W? Do you feel like saying “sweetie, can you please fix your legs”? Does W-sitting cause long term effects? Should I be worried when I see my toddler/preschooler sitting in a W? Do your older children still W-sit?
what is w-sitting?
W-sitting is a sitting position in which children sit with knees bent, feet tucked under, bottom resting on the floor between their legs and legs out to either side. The child’s knees may be close to touching or may be splayed apart. Parents and therapists usually notice children W-sitting between the ages of 3 and 6.
what risks are associated with w-sitting?
When children W-sit for long periods of time, they are at risk for the following issues:
Hip dislocation: If a child has hip problems, sitting in the W position can put strain on the hips and joints and increase the likelihood of dislocation.
Limited trunk/core strength: The wide sitting stance of the W position makes it easier to keep the body upright. Children sitting in a W position don’t have to use their core muscles as much and won’t develop them as they would in other sitting positions.
Lack of cross body movements: The W position makes it difficult for children to rotate their upper bodies and reach across to either side with one or both arms.
No hand preference: In a W sitting position, a child has too much trunk control and stability. It’s very easy to use either hand to accomplish tasks. However, developing hand preference is important for writing ability later on.
Increased muscle tightness: If a child is prone to muscle tightness, then sitting in a W position will increase tightness in hips, knees and ankles.
what can you do about your child’s w-sitting?
If your child enjoys W-sitting, there are steps you can take to break their W-sitting habit. If you notice your child frequently sitting in a W position, take steps to correct the behavior.
- Remind your child to “fix their legs” whenever you see them sit in a W position.
- Offer your child a small chair or stool as an alternative to sitting on the floor.
- You can discourage W-sitting by showing them other ways to sit. Encourage your child to try these positions:
when should i seek help?
If your child sits in a W frequently and you notice any of the following in your child, an evaluation with a professional is advised.
If your child:
- develops a limp
- has weakness in the lower extremities
- uses a pigeon-toed gait
- has low muscle tone or weak core strength
- is unable to sit alone in any other position other than a W
- seems clumsy/uncoordinated
- has trouble with fine motor tasks
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