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What is W-Sitting?

“W sitting” occurs when a child sits on the floor with their knees bent, legs turned outward, and their bottom resting between their feet – which ends up looking like a ‘w’! Many children naturally adopt this position while sitting on the floor. However, if it becomes prolonged and frequent it could be a sign of gross motor challenges, or lead to it.

 

We always recommend checking in with your local health professional to discuss this if you notice your child sitting like this frequently. Read on to learn more about why they may be doing it, potential impacts, and general strategies to help your child adopt a more functional sitting position.

 

Possible causes of w sitting: 

  • Low muscle tone
  • Flexibility and increased joint mobility 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex (STNR) not integrated

 

Impacts of w sitting

While not everyone who sits in the w position will get these impacts, it may lead to a few challenges: 

  • Can create weakness in the back, hips and legs.
  • Pigeon-toed walking (due to internal rotation of the legs)
  • Decreased trunk rotation – as this position “locks” the torso into place. This can interfere with the development of bilateral integration and normal hand dominance – as it means you only interact with things in front of you. 
  • Orthopedic conditions
  • Gross motor delays

 

Strategies for w sitting

  • Engage in gross motor activities to increase your child’s core strength
  • Try and model alternate sitting positions – like laying on their tummy, deep squats, sitting cross-legged or with their feet out straight in front.
  • Provide gentle prompts to help your child notice when they sit in this position – you can even create a secret codeword or hand signal to cue your child. 
  • Provide natural opportunities during play for your child to stand up, so that they can change their positioning the next time they sit back down – for example, asking them to grab their favourite toy. 

 

Observing occasional w sitting doesn’t need to be a cause for alarm, but if your child regularly sits in this position and for extended periods of time, it is something to keep an eye on. Book in with your GP or paediatrician to discuss this further. Our Occupational Therapists can also help with assessing the reason why and strategies to build up your child’s skills!

SIENNA SMILEY

Occupational Therapist.



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