Watch young kids play and you’ll see many of them “W sitting,” or resting their bottom between their feet, legs to either side. This position is extremely common for children due to the stability it provides. Since their legs are fanned out, they are given a significant amount of support with the least amount of effort possible.
Unfortunately, the “W” position comes with many potential problems. Many parents do not know or recognize the danger of letting a child sit like this for too long. Sitting in a “W” position too often or for too long can negatively impact a child’s development and growth patterns.
THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF “W-SITTING” INCLUDE:
- Orthopedic Problems
- Delayed Development of Postural Control and Stability
- Delayed Development of Refined Motor Skills
HOW W-SITTING AFFECTS YOUR CHILD’S MOVEMENT ABILITIES
Excessive use of a “W-sit” during the growing years puts undue stress on the hip abductors, hamstrings, internal rotators and heel cords, leading to the possibility of orthopedic problems in the future. “W-sitting” can lead to hip dislocation, and for children with pre-existing orthopedic conditions, these conditions can worsen when major muscle groups are placed in shortened positions. The muscles begin to tighten, and this can lead to a permanent shortening of the muscle, which can affect coordination, balance, and development of motor skills.
HOW TO PREVENT W-SITTING.
The most effective (and easiest) way to prevent a problem with W-sitting is to prevent it from becoming a habit it the first place. Anticipate and catch it before the child even learns to W-sit. Children should be placed and taught to assume alternative sitting positions. If a child discovers W-sitting anyway, help him to move to another sitting position, or say, “Fix your legs.” It’s very important to be as consistent as possible.
If a kid is not able to sit alone in any position other than a W, talk with a therapist about supportive seating or some other optional positions such as prone and side lying. Another position is Tailor sitting against the couch; a small table and chair. A therapist will have many other ideas based on each individual child.