Many children, including those with special needs and those who are typically developing, w-sit to feel more stable while in a sitting position. Sitting independently requires good core strength and adding extra movements such as rotation or reaching while playing requires even more core strength to hold the child upright. Therefore, some children choose to w-sit because it helps to provide more stability to their hips trunk to maintain upright posture while playing.
W-sitting is not recommended for any child, for various reasons. First of all, w-sitting does not allow the child to rotate their trunk while sitting like they could if they were sitting in a different position. This lack of rotation could delay them from developing a dominant hand or forming higher level gross motor skills since they will be unable to reach across their body (midline) with one hand to pick up a toy/object. Instead, w-sitting encourages them to use the hand closest to the toy to pick it up and play. Other concerns include: hip dislocation (hip dysplasia) due to prolonged stress being placed on the hip joints and forming hip contractures by causing hip muscles to become tight which could lead to a decrease in range of motion.
If your child w-sits, discourage them from sitting in that position by telling them to “fix their feet” or “change positions.” Here are some other sitting positions to redirect them to instead:
- Tailor sitting (aka criss-cross applesauce): Sitting with both knees bent in opposite directions and ankles crossed over each other
- Long sitting: Sitting with both legs extended out in front of the child
- Side sitting: Sitting with both knees bent in the same direction
Make sure to talk to your child’s therapist if you have questions or concerns about breaking this habit!