What is the W Sit?
The W Sit is known by a range of names, including W sitting position or W position or W sitting. These all describe the same seated position.
W-sitting is where an individual sits on their bottom with their knees bent and feet pointing out to either side. If you stand above the child and look down, their legs look like the letter “W”.
Why Do Children W Sit?
W-sitting allows the child to have a wider base of support which increases stability while sitting. It can be a comfortable position for children as they do not need to engage their core muscles.
W Sitting in Children
This is a preferred position for many younger children in preschool. Often, you will see younger children sitting in the w position as they are still developing muscle strength in their core.
It is common to see children aged 2 to 5 using different seating positions, including the w sit. As they develop their core strength, some young children grow out of this position and use alternative seating positions.
Is W-Sitting Bad?
Although many children sit in this position, short term or irregularly sitting in this position has no long term side effects. However, there are some implications of sitting in this position for an extensive amount of time.
W-Sitting Position Side Effects
There are a range of risks associated with long term sitting in the w position.
Reduce Core Muscle Development
Because W-sitting allows a wider base of support, it means children who sit in the W-sitting position do not need to engage their core muscles to maintain an upright posture. This can lead to reduced development of core strength.
Limit Trunk Rotation
Additionally, this seated position limits trunk rotation which means children seated in this position may find it hard to shift their weight and turn to the sides. This makes it challenging for children who are still developing their hand dominance as children might pick up things based on the location of the object, rather than using their preferred hand.
In addition to the above point, limited trunk rotation can make bilateral coordination between the left and right sides harder. Bilateral coordination is important for children to use both hands throughout the day in tasks like eating, buttoning, writing and cutting. This can also negatively impact fine motor development.
Impact on Hip and Knee Joints
There are some concerns that extensive sitting in the W position can negatively impact and put additional stress on the individual’s hip and knee joints.
As the hips and knees are in unnatural positions, it can cause joint pain and movement problems (WebMD, 2021). It may also cause long-term postural problems and low back pain (Childhood Development Centre, 2019).
Alternative Sitting Positions
If your child is sitting in the w formation, try and encourage them to use an alternative sitting position. It can be hard for your child to alter their sitting positions, but it is important to continue to watch how your child sits and encourage them to use other positions.
This is a common method encouraged in school-aged students when they are seated on the floor. This is where the child sits with the feet crossed and knees apart.
This is where both legs are stretched out in front of the child.
If the child has trouble maintaining this position, get them to practice leaning against the wall or the couch to provide them with additional support.
You can also encourage this position by placing something on top of them e.g. a cushion so they remember to keep their legs straight in front of them.
Side Sitting Position
Side sitting is when the weight of the body is shifted to one hip and both legs are out to the same side.
You can alternate this position, using the left and right sides to promote equal development.
If your child is working at the table, you can encourage them to do the ‘tall kneel position’ where their feet are tucked under their bottom.
This position is great in encouraging them to use their core muscles throughout the activity.
Is W Sitting Bad for Adults?
As mentioned before, there are potential long-term effects for sitting in this position. If you are an adult that w sits, try some of the alternative seating positions mentioned above.
It can be hard to change habits. Try and become conscious about how you are sitting. You can place a pillow underneath your backside and sit cross legged.
Although w-sitting is commonly seen in younger children who have not yet developed their core, there are some possible long-term effects, especially for those who use this position for extended periods of time.
Child Development Centre. (2019). The truth about w-sitting. Retrieved 25 September 2020, from https://www.cdchk.org/parent-tips/truth-about-w-sitting/
Molloy, C. (2017). W Sitting. Retrieved 25 September 2020, from https://occupationaltherapy.com.au/w-sitting/
Pates, N. (2020). W Sitting – why the drama? – Western Kids Health. Retrieved 25 September 2020, from https://westernkidshealth.com/w-sitting-why-the-drama/
What to Know About W-Sitting in Children. (2021). Retrieved 20 October 2021, from https://www.webmd.com/children/what-to-know-about-w-sitting-in-children
Wyndman City. (2020). W-Sitting. Retrieved 25 September 2020, from https://www.wyndham.vic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2017-06/PSFO%20-%20Tip%20Sheet%20-%20W%20Sitting.pdf