The Dangers of the ‘W’ Sit

If you are a parent then you may have heard of the W sit. It is a common sitting posture among toddlers and young children. If you’re unfamiliar with this posture, W Sitting is when kids sit on their bottom with the knees bent and the legs are spread out from the body on both sides. If you were to look at the child from above you will notice the legs are forming letter W, hence the term.

Why Do Kids Like To W Sit?

As an adult, this position just seems like it would be uncomfortable to me, yet I see children do it all the time. Why is that? It could be a natural cause since children are usually born with the thigh bones turned inwards. This is also most likely the reason why many children stop W-sitting by the time they reach age 8. Another reason is possibly because kids find this position more stable than other positions and can transition almost instantly when crawling around or kneeling on the floor. They can grab things easily and they feel more comfortable when W-Sitting.



The Harmful Effects of W-Sitting

While this is a commonly preferred position among children that seems harmless, it could have serious negative effects. The w sit can negatively affect their overall balance, motor skills, and even strength when they stand up.

  • It can lead to hip dislocation. When children sit in a W position, they can potentially end up dislocating their hip, especially when they try to get up. This is also common to a child that already has hip dysplasia.
  • W Sitting over time can cause the muscles of the legs and hips to become short and tight. This can affect balance and coordination in the body.
  •  The posture limits the rotation of the upper body. When children W-sit, it makes reaching out to perform tasks from their sides or the front more difficult and can further increase risk to injury of the hips.
  • It contributes to weak trunk muscles due to the lack of pressure put on the trunk muscles that support the upper body. As the muscles are relaxed and inactive in this position, they become weaker.
  • It affects the upper weight balance. Children in this position can find it challenging to shift their body weight from one side to the other, which can then affect their standing balance.
  •  It can even have an effect on hand preference development.

It is strongly advised to help children avoid sitting in this position through reinforcement.

Which Position Is Recommended?

There are many times when children will want or may be required to sit on the ground. To avoid w-sitting, here are some recommended sitting positions that you should try to implement instead:

  • Criss-Cross/Tailor Sitting – sitting with legs crossed in front and bottom on the floor will probably be the more comfortable alternative from the other possible positions in most situations.
  • Side Sitting – rather than sitting on their bottom with their legs out on each side, a better alternative is to allow side sitting; knees are bent with both legs to one side of the body.
  • Long Sitting – this involves sitting on the bottom with the legs stretched out in front. This is not always the most comfortable position for sitting, but with legs spread apart it can provide more stability.

While sitting in a chair that has adequate back support is ideal, it isn’t always possible in some cases such as those where seating may be limited. Likewise, children that are playing on the floor or watching TV are more likely to sit on their bottoms. Always encourage positive sitting positions, good posture and provide supportive seats when possible.

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