As parents in the social media age, we’re often exposed to the latest and greatest things meant to terrify us. Some are real concerns. Others are hot air. One of the latest topics to make the rounds is a sitting position some kids prefer.
It’s called w-sitting. And it should not be ignored.
W-sitting offers your child extra stability. While this may sound like a good thing, the fact that they need this help actually clues you in that something is probably wrong.
Some kids gravitate towards w-sitting because they have not developed good trunk and hip control. It’s difficult for them to either maintain an upright posture or control shifts in weight from side to side. This means they’ll have trouble with normal sitting positions (legs out front, ring sitting, cross-legged, etc.).
W-sitting compensates for this. It provides a wider base and helps your child feel secure.
Kids with joint hypermobility and low muscle tone often w-sit, but it strains their developing bodies. Hips twist in. Knees twist out to an extreme degree. To deal with this, your child’s muscles will need to work harder to provide the stability needed.
But it’s not limited to hypotonia. Kids on the other end of the spectrum with high muscle tone may also choose w-sitting because it’s easier. Inner thigh tightness makes it difficult to twist hips out and keep legs apart. Tight hamstrings also pull the pelvis back, which creates problems when trying to sit upright.
Persistent w-sitting creates short-term and long-term problems. It can:
· Impact lower leg alignment
· Tax hip and knee joints
· Slow down the strengthening of core muscles
· Increase the difficulty of developing good weight shifting and balance reactions
· Move feet out, causing excessive strain and future knee problems
· Affect walking and running because a good push off at the ankle may fail to develop
· Twist femurs inward resulting in intoeing (also known as walking pigeon-toed)
Patience and persistence are key. If necessary, gently move your child’s legs. Just remember that healthier sitting position can be both painful and difficult. It will take practice. Also, use audible reminders like “feet in front.”
You can help your child by being intentional while they’re sitting. Encourage them to reach backwards and forwards to grab different toys, which stretches back and hip muscles. This also improves flexibility and postural control. And don’t be afraid to mix it up. Provide other sitting opportunities such as on benches or riding toys.
If w-sitting becomes a habit your child just won’t quit, another option is Criss Crossers from Surestep. These special pants are the world’s first device designed specifically to discourage w-sitting. They’re also simple to use. Any time your child w-sits, you’ll hear a specific sound. This lets both of you know it’s time to switch positions.
Criss Crossers come in four different sizes and they can be worn either under or over regular clothes.
It may not be a fun process, but breaking your child of this bad habit will help them develop properly and avoid problems down the road.