At least once a year I like to give a reminder about ‘W’ Sitting and what to look for. So, since the weather should be getting nicer, it brings more opportunities for children to play on the ground, in sandboxes, on beaches, on grassy areas, etc. “W” sitting is a common position that children move in and out of while playing. However, it is an unhealthy position with long-term effects.
What is “W” sitting? It’s when a child sits with his/her bottom on the floor in between his or her feet. The result is the legs look like a “W.” (See photo. Borrowed).
Why do children “W” sit? “W” sitting actually stabilizes the upper body or trunk and makes playing with objects directly in front of the child easier. It doesn’t require as much core strength. The child doesn’t have concentrate on balancing. That’s great and so much easier if you are child who may have even a little bit of low muscle tone. But….
What’s wrong with “W” sitting? While “W” sitting may be a bit easier in the short-run it doesn’t allow for trunk rotation or shifts of weight from side to side. In addition, there is a lot of stress put on the hips and knees. Ultimately, it can create problems that occur in the gross-motor, fine-motor and brain development areas.
The big muscles or gross motor
When “W” sitting muscles begin to tighten. This can lead to permanent shortening of the muscle, resulting in difficulties with coordination, balance, and the development of motor skills. It also does not support the development of strong core muscles. It could also result in future orthopedic problems with the hips and knees.
The fine-motor skills and brain communication
The limited trunk rotation causes children to not cross the mid-line and potentially have difficulty in choosing a dominant hand. Crossing the mid-line is when without thinking a body part cross over to the other side. For example, if you are right handed, you wouldn’t think twice of using your right hand to grab a doorknob even if it was toward the left side of your body. When children don’t cross the mid-line they the pick up toys on the right side only with the right hand and toys on the left side only with the left hand. (Please note, that children generally master crossing the mid-line by 3 to 4 years, but it is still present during infancy and toddlerhood.) Crossing the mid-line has a big effect on future foundational activities such as reading and writing.
So, what should you do if your child “W” sits? W sitting is a habit that forms, so if you see your child sitting in a W position, just give them gentle reminders to “fix his/her legs.” They can even kneel by putting his/her bottom on the legs bent underneath them.
In the long run, you will be supporting them in a Wonderful Way.