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What Is W Sitting?

What is W sitting and why is it bad?

There are a lot of issues in raising children today, but one of the most polarizing topics is W-sitting. Some people find nothing wrong with it and actually find the act endearing, but studies have shown that it’s a habit that can have adverse effects to a child’s development. Occasional W-sitting is fine, as it’s a natural position to move into during play but it being the default position your child goes for is highly discouraged and must be corrected.

W-sitting is when a child sits on their bottom with their knees bent and their legs turned away from the body, resembling the letter W. This position actually provides children with a lot of stability while playing as they are less likely to topple over. However, problems arise when kids W-sit for long periods of time.

One of the problems associated with prolonged W-sitting is the increased risk of hip dislocation. This position puts a strain on the hips and joints and may aggravate an underlying hip issue that may or may not be known at the time. In other words, if your child has an undiagnosed hip problem, this position will lead to injury.

Another issue with W-sitting is its contribution to weak core muscles. Since the position gives a lot of stability to the child when sitting upright, a lot of core muscles aren’t used and engaged. Muscles that normally develop through regular play and natural motions aren’t utilized as much and will affect balance, coordination, and gross motor skills down the line. Cross body movements are also limited since while a child is in a W-position, rotating the upper body to reach across is difficult. In line with this, the development of hand preference is hampered. While W-sitting, there is a tendency to use the right hand to grab or play with objects in the right side and the other way around. When this happens too much, hand coordination issues can arise.

When you notice your child developing a preference to the W-sitting position, what should you do? You have to remind and show them other sitting positions that they can use. Good options to look at are legs in the front, both legs to the side, cross-legged, or even giving them a small stool or chair. With these positions, the child is free to move around and shift their weight from side-to-side and they are encouraged to use their abdominal and back muscles. As they shift around while playing, their core and their muscles are engaged.

Do you feel that your child is favoring W-sitting a little too much? Feel free to talk to Brightminds’ licensed physical and occupational therapist

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