Several months ago, The Inspired Treehouse wrote one of our very first Tricks of the Trade posts about W-sitting, and WOW, we were shocked by the outpouring of response and interest! There were over 100 comments on our blog from readers with many varying opinions. We, as therapists, did not expect this to be such a controversial topic, but are glad that it sparked conversation. We openly listened and responded to every one of the comments we received. Below, we will address some of the most common questions and concerns our W-Sitting post has raised.
COMMENT: My child sat like this and never had any of the problems you described in your post about W-Sitting. OR I sat like this all my life and I’ve never had any problems because of it.
This is like saying, I never wear my seatbelt and I’ve never been in an auto accident. We are not saying that EVERY child is going to suffer consequences of w-sitting, this article was meant to inform you of the implications of w-sitting from a physical therapist’s perspective and our years of clinical practice.
Every point we made is accurate: you cannot fully rotate your trunk to reach when your butt is sitting on the floor between your legs, you are placing your hips in a position that is compromising the joint which, in times of rapid bone growth, could affect how the femur and tibia bones grow and form. Young bones and joints ARE affected by the habitual patterns in which they are positioned.
“I have never had a problem” is relative. You may have pain or discomfort through your hips, feet, back, neck, etc that are related to your strong history of w-sitting, you just never attributed it to that.
We don’t like to get technical at The Inspired Treehouse. Our blog is about breaking information about child development down into easy to understand language. However, we are licensed, practicing physical and occupational therapists, meaning that we do have the clinical background and medical knowledge to back our professional opinions. If you would like to read more about developmental biomechanics, here is a great article:
We have received hundreds and hundreds of comments on the blog and on our social media sites about this article. For every one person saying that they’ve had a problem related to W-Sitting, there is another person who says they didn’t. Again, if this is the case, wouldn’t you just want to have the knowledge and maybe, just maybe, offer your child some other ideas for ways to sit to play?
COMMENT: This is helicopter parenting at its finest. Let kids be kids and sit how they want to sit.
We bet you have made many choices since your child was born: not to sleep him on his tummy when he was a baby to keep him safe, not to let him watch too much tv, making sure he eats all of his veggies, requiring that he wears a helmet when he rides his bike. Parenting is about making decisions based on the best information you have. You decide whether the consequences of a particular action or behavior are significant enough to address on a regular basis.
Correcting W-Sitting with your child can be playful – it doesn’t have to require constant hovering, nagging or anything negative at all. Ask your child to get up and get a favorite toy, use a “secret” code word to cue him to change position, give him alternate places and ways to sit such as: a beanbag chair, a pillow to sit on, or even suggest that he lay on his tummy and get down there next to him in the same position. Pretty soon, these will become his new habits.
Be sure to check back at our original post on W-Sitting to see our video of 5-year-old Finn demonstrating suggestions for alternative ways to sit.
COMMENT: What if my child has a specific diagnosis that makes W-Sitting most comfortable for him/her?
W-Sitting is not a natural developmental sitting position. If your child is a habitual W-Sitter, meaning that they sit this way all the time and do not seem to be able to get into any other comfortable position on the floor, we recommend that you approach the topic with your pediatrician. It may be determined that there is an underlying orthopedic reason that your child is a W-Sitter. If there is not an orthopedic concern, your child’s W-Sitting may be attributed to another underlying cause, such as limited core strength.
We hope we’ve been able to address some of the main areas of concern raised by our post about W-Sitting. We look forward to hearing more from you on this topic. What do you think? What has your experience been with W-Sitting?
Are you a therapist, teacher, or caregiver working with kids who are W-Sitters? Share a copy of our printable W-Sitting handout with families and parents to help inform and educate!