What is “W” Sitting?

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What is “W” Sitting?

W sit

A “W” sit is when your child sits on the floor with their knees to the front, but their feet aiming behind, and their bottom on the floor between the feet, hence the “W” shape. So many children sit like this! Sometimes it happens because they aren’t as strong through their trunk (the core), and sometimes they just sit that way because they can! I have a W-sitter at home. I am ALWAYS having to say, “Sydney, fix your feet!” She’s now five years old, but will still get into this position when she is tired.

So, why do we NOT want children to “W” –sit? Well, W-sitting can have some really negative long-term effects. Some of these are:

  • Decreases the ability to rotate trunk and cross midline during play (reach across the front)
  • Limits protective reflex development – catching yourself if you fall
  • Internally rotates hips and tightens muscles on inside of hips, while stretching muscles on outside. Ouch!
  • Tightens hamstrings and heel chords
  • Puts too much stress on the knees and ankles
  • Impairs balance and coordination

So, how do we discourage them from W-sitting? You can help them move in to a better play position, such as “legs in a bow”, or legs out straight. Even sitting in a side sit (like a cheerleader) takes pressure off the hips and is great for play. While you are moving them, pair this with a verbal cue, such as “fix your feet” or “sit on your bottom” or “legs out straight”. Over time, they will begin to fix their sitting position all by themselves. Give lots of praise when they do this on their own!

Did you or your child sit in a “W”-sit? How did you solve the problem? Need more ideas on how to avoid it? Let us know!