The W-position is maybe the most common sitting position for children. Sitting and playing in other postures, they can develop trunk control and rotation, which is important for midline crossing and separation of the two body sides, so that the child can develop normal motor skills and hand dominance.
This position is not recommended for children or adults. In children, it can cause orthopedic problems in the future, so parents should stop their children from sitting and playing in this position.
Why do children like sitting in the W-position?
It allows them to play with their toys in front, without having to worry about keeping the balance, so that they can concentrate on the toys. This does not allow trunk rotation and weight shifts over one side so that the child can maintain balance while playing on the ground, which is necessary for crossing the midline while doing activities on the table.
Why is W-sitting bad?
This position can be detrimental for a developing child for these reasons:
- Orthopedic concerns: This sitting posture can incline the child to hip dislocation. If there is a family history of hip dysplasia, the child should definitely avoid this position.
- Muscle tightness: In case of muscle tightness, this posture will aggravate it, because it puts the hamstrings, internal rotators, heel cords and the hip adductors in much shortened range. This means that if the child is prone to tightness or contractures, it should not be sitting in this position.
- Neurological concerns: In case the child has increased muscle tone, this posture will increase the abnormal patterns of movement which should be avoided. Other sitting positions can help developmental delays as well as more desirable movement patterns.
Sitting in W-position can also discourage the child from developing hand preference. No trunk rotation means that the child is less disposed to reach across the body, so it will pick the objects on the right with the right hands and the ones on the left with the left hand.
The W-sitting does not require trunk rotation, weight shifting or righting reactions.
How can we prevent W-sitting?
First of all, we need to prevent this posture from becoming a habit. You must catch it before the child even learns to sit in this position. You should place the child and teach him to assume different positions. If he still discovers W-sitting, help the child move to another position by constantly repeating “Fix your legs.” Be consistent.
While the child is playing on the floor, hold his knees and feet together when creeping on his hands and knees, so that he won`t be able to get into the W-position. The child will have to sit back on the feet or it on one side. You should encourage him to sit over both the right and the left side, because these patterns require certain trunk rotation and lateral weight shift.
In case the child cannot sit in any other position alone, consult a therapist, he will advise some supportive seating or other optional positions like side lying or Tailor sitting against a couch, chair or small table.