Healthy Kids

Why My Child Does W Sitting

W-sitting is when your child sits on the floor with knees together and feet on either side of their hips. It is called that because if you look at them from above, it looks like they are making a W with their body.

If you see your child temporarily sitting in this position, or use they it as a transition stage to move in and out of other sitting positions or movements, it is fine.

What is not fine is if your child sits in this position for extended periods of time while playing on the floor.

I first learned about W-sitting when I took my first Itsy Bitsy Yoga teacher training back in 2005. In that training, we learned how if we see a kid sitting like this in yoga class to gently remind parents to have their child sit another way, because W-sitting is hard on the knees and hips and can cause damage.

W-sitting requires the hips to be positioned in extreme internal rotation – way past what is functional – which causes problems with the hips and knees down the road. Major muscle groups become very tight, causing in-toeing during walking (aka pigeon-toed walking). Kids who chronically W-sit have more shallow hip sockets, which can cause severe problems later in life. W-sitting is also hard on the knee joints due to excessive forces on the joint, making your child more prone to ligaments damage during play than non-W-sitting kids.

But in that training, I don’t remember being taught why a child would sit like this in the first place. Only later when my daughter started sitting like this, and during her diagnosis of Sensory Processing Disorder, did I find out the ever-important why.

So, why do kids W-sit?

Kids who W-sit do so because requires less muscle strength and is therefore easier to balance. They W-sit because it is easier for them, and they can get away with playing on the floor without having to cross the mid-line. It takes a massive amount of core strength to sit “criss-cross applesauce” or other ways of floor sitting in where you can rotate your trunk and cross the mid-line of the body to move around. Low tone and not crossing the mid-line are huge red flags for developmental issues in your child.

I am still wrapping my mind around low tone and how it is related to sensory/spectrum kids, but the best I can describe it is that kids with low tone are often floppy and tire easily. They require more energy to move their bodies because the muscle fibers and brain synapses are not there or not functioning properly – just sitting up for them can feel like they ran a mile. If it takes so much energy for them just to sit up, can you imagine the energy required for them to ride a bike or run or simply hold a pencil? So a kid with low tone is gonna do W-sitting, because they can sit and play longer without feeling exhausted. They can focus less on balancing and using their muscles and more on playing. She is exhausted after school; she wants to lay down or have me hold her like a baby because she is so tired from working her core muscles to hold herself upright, she’s also exhausted from sensory overload. Kids with low tone are often very clumsy, falling or bumping into things and can have gross motor or fine motor delays. Just like babies are little geniuses in figuring out the easiest and most reliable way to be fed in order to survive, kids are geniuses at compensating for their weaknesses to get by.

When I say the mid-line of the body, I am referring to an imaginary line down the center of your body that creates the left and right sides of your body. Again, kids who W-sit, often do so, so they can avoid crossing the mid-line. Many children with sensory processing disorder have trouble crossing their midline, ie. bringing an arm or leg across the line to the other side of the body, or even reading across a page with both eyes. Kids who find crossing the mid-line difficult usually compensate by turning their entire body or their head in the direction they need to move their limbs or eyes in. They’ve learned that when they move their whole self, they no longer need to overreach their limits. This is a great post with some ideas of things you can do at home to practice crossing the mid-line with your child.   This one is good as well. 

She has a really hard time with this. She will turn her entire body to reach for something instead of simply reaching across her body to get it. And she also scoots her left hand and body further to the left, so that her right hand doesn’t need to cross the mid-line as she is writing. She is working on this at her Occupational Therapy sessions, and I am praying we cover a lot of ground this year, so that when she starts Kindergarten next year  she will be more caught up with her peers.

This is also why it is really important for babies to not skip or speed through the crawling stage. Crawling is an important way a child can set up neurological pathways for later crossing the mid-line activities, so in the same way that W-sitting can be a red flag, skipping the crawling stage can also be a red flag. She didn’t crawl for long, as she quickly figured out standing up and walking – which meant she didn’t have to deal with crossing the mid-line to move around. See? Babies are geniuses!

If you see your child W-sitting, don’t freak out- I just want to bring this information into your consciousness so that you know it may be a red flag for other stuff.

If you do see them sitting this way often, gently show them other ways to sit, including: criss-cross applesauce (aka Indian style), mermaid sitting (with both legs to one side), pike position (both legs out front), kneeling (similar to W-sitting, but feet are under butt/hips). Closely monitor how often they W-sit if they are resistant to other types of sitting.

Some other great things to do with your child to help them build core strength, practice crossing the mid-line, and fully integrate the Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex is to do yoga!  Moon Toe and Twistie are great one for babies to practice crossing the mid-line, and Frog pose and Cat/Cow are great for older tots and kids. Climbing on a rock wall is also awesome, very similar to what the body/brain needs to do while crawling.

If you practice yoga, you might be thinking to yourself, “Hey, wait a minute, W-sitting is hero’s pose or virasana! I do that in yoga class! Why can’t my child sit like that if I am doing this pose in yoga??” Hero’s pose or Virasana can be a relaxing and rejuvenating stretch for your thighs, knees and ankles if you ease into the pose extremely gently and do the pose very consciously, fully bringing your awareness to your legs so as not to injure yourself. If you are doing this pose as a stretch but your knees want to pop up, or your butt can’t get all the way down so that your knees, feet and butt all on the floor, that is a sure sign you are not flexible enough yet for the full pose. In this situation, stretch one leg out in front of you and do a half hero pose until you can safely do the full pose. Eventually, to deepen the pose, you drop back on your elbows and and then onto your back, so you are all the way on the floor. Again, this is a great stretch for your thighs, knees and ankles, but you must only do it very consciously for a few minutes to not do damage to your body.

In summary, W-sitting is a sign of poor balance, poor coordination, and the bad thing about that, is your kid needs good balance and coordination not only to ride a bike, jump or play ball, but to read, write and speak.

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  • Angie
    October 23, 2014 at 12:06 AM

    It is so ironic to see this post today, as I was just noticing a child at my daughter’s school “w” sitting. I just chuckled a bit and made a comment to myself about wishing for his flexibility. I had no idea it could be damaging. He is such a small thing so it now makes sense to me why he might sit like this. Thank you for the information! Maybe forward this to his mother? Or just leave it alone? Thanks for all you do!

    • Stephanie
      October 27, 2014 at 6:49 AM

      That’s a tough call, I have good personal friends that kids do w-sitting and I don’t say anything because I am afraid I would come off like a know-it-all jerky mama. If you find a non-threatening way to mention it to her, let me know!

  • Karla - Josh's momma
    November 4, 2014 at 8:28 PM

    possibly consider Pilates to help build core strength? It’s not just mat work. The equipment helps weak bodies have a way to come up gradually to greater core strength. I’m talking first hand experience here, for myself! 🙂

    Best to you.

    • Stephanie
      November 5, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      Oh yes, we do lots of pilates-style core strength building. At home she works out with me and we do sit ups and work with a workout ball.

  • Paula
    November 4, 2014 at 8:59 PM

    Thank you for this information, Stephanie! My 28 year old son has always preferred W sitting, even in the bathtub. He is autistic and also has severe scoliosis, he is also easily tired and “floppy” as you say. This article explains alot.
    Blessings,
    Paula

    • Stephanie
      November 5, 2014 at 10:01 AM

      You are so welcome Paula. Thanks so much for reading and sharing.

  • Lauren
    November 4, 2014 at 9:04 PM

    Ah, W sitting…the bane of my existence. I apparently tell Ethan so many times to “fix your feet” or to “sit on your bum, criss cross applesauce” so often I was telling him to do it in my sleep the other night!

    • Stephanie
      November 5, 2014 at 10:01 AM

      That’s funny! I know, I feel like all day long I say it, that and “walk on your heels!” She’s gotten a lot better about toe walking, but still needs lots of reminders.

      • Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship
        December 7, 2014 at 3:21 AM

        Stephanie,
        Is toe-walking another sign of developmental delays or SPD type stuff? I’ve got a w-sitter and toe-walker here and want to catch any problems asap! Thanks! 🙂 Katie

        • Stephanie
          December 8, 2014 at 10:57 PM

          Yup, that is a big red flag too unfortunately. That was actually my biggest sign with Penelope at around 2 years she started it and at first I just thought it was because she was really into ballet, but then learned later why she was really doing it. :/

  • Peggy
    November 4, 2014 at 9:31 PM

    A friend shared your post on Facebook. It’s a great post. I personally never crawled normally. I was evidently a butt-scooter. Of course back then (I’m 35) there wasn’t a name for every funky thing a kid does. When I got old enough and heard that butt-scooting/not crawling right is a sign of developmental delay, I wondered what other developmental delays I had. I guess that must have been it because I got through school fine and finished college. Fast forward to my own kids. My oldest was born breech, and has flown under the radar with sensory issues for 8 years. I’ve tried and tried to get him help but he’s so smart, he’ll try super hard during diagnostic tests so I look like an idiot for thinking something is not right with him. I’ve worn out the web trying to find ways to help him. He was under 3 when I noticed he didn’t cross midline, and worked with him on that, despite the early childhood people claiming he was great. This year (7 going on 8) he has finally learned to ride a bike, cross monkey bars, and pump a swing. I’m not a mom who wasn’t aware he needed extra work. I gave him every opportunity to get help and I did what I could to help him. Amazingly, without any intervention, he’s finally hitting milestones. Slowly, but surely. Sorry I’m typing so much. I just want to share with other moms out there who have borderline kids who the professionals can’t find anything officially wrong with, keep trying. Use the internet. Follow the links in this blog post. Thanks to the internet, you can find lots of fun ways to work with your child to do most of the occupational therapy things at home, for free. You’re not crazy. Moms know when something isn’t right. Go with your gut, but even if you can’t get anyone else to see it, YOU have the power to make a difference in your child’s development!! Good Luck to all the moms out there who have a kid who is “fine!”

    • Stephanie
      November 5, 2014 at 9:59 AM

      Thank you so much for sharing Peggy. Excellent contribution! I totally agree, moms are the best advocate for their children and sometimes have to take matters into their own hands. Thanks for reading and sharing. Makes me hopeful that Penelope will be able to ride a bike one day with her friends, even it if takes her till she is 9 or 10. Lots of love to you both.

    • Marathi
      November 7, 2014 at 5:52 PM

      Wow! This is such an amazing comment, Peggy.
      Its kind of like my story too. My mother never spared reminding me I could not catch the ball throw across to me when I was little. Nor did she allow me to forget I was a smart kid, but would learn only if I wished to. And that I was supersensitive to clothing, colors, foods and noises. She thought I was just lazy and fussy, maybe still does.
      30 years later, my son is just like me. Now I know about SPD, motorincoordination and hypotonia. He is just as smart and witty. Just 3 days ago I attended our first iep meeting and they tell me I am worried unnecessarily about a child I should be proud of…. The school has refused to acknowledge a doctors diagnosis and has refused sensory diet at school- The docs note says he need it.
      I am getting him private OT, but I am paying for most of it due to insurance. I work on him at home with simple fun activities…. Yes, I read a lot too.
      Its nice to meet someone who knows what it is to be in my shoes. I can understand where you are coming from… Hang in there and hats off to your commitment to your child.
      Sending you love and strength.

    • Harriet
      October 24, 2015 at 3:09 PM

      Our stories are very similar I think Peggy. I also didn’t crawl but had no other issues. I now have 5 children and babies 1 and 5 were both breech. Child 1 and 2 both have autism diagnosis, child 2 has some mid line issue, turned his feet in, was super clumsy and had Sensroy processing disorder. Child 4 also turns feet in and has no core muscle strength. Baby 5 (7 months) sat unaided at 4 months, but now is W sitting and isn’t crawling disputed being in hands and knees for months, she can bum move around a bit but just pulls herself to standing now. I don’t know how to correct her at such a young age, as she just moves her leg straight back to W sitting most the time when I correct her and I try and encourage her to crawl but she often just shakes her head and cries, so I carry her around most of the time. Now worrying it means more issues are yet to come. I will have a read of exercises and yoga, but not sure what ages they are successful from. Thanks for your posts ladies. Very interesting

  • Dogmom
    November 4, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    My gosh, my sister and I always did this when we were little — and not so little. I sat this way because I could not sit what we called Indian-style, cross-legged, your criss-cross applesauce way I think. I am in my 60s now and have never had much core strength, muscles always very floppy, sore knees and feet but fortunately none of the other developmental issues you mentioned. I have never read anything about why we did this; I think we just always thought it was just how we were or our knees were mildly deformed — we walk and run funny too — and laughed at ourselves — eventually we laughed at ourselves; kids used to laugh at us in school because of the way we sat AND it took up so much more room on the rug. I can remember being banished by the teacher to the outside edge of the rug/circle in kindergarten — 56 years ago now! — because of how I sat on the floor, which I think had a lot to do with the development of my lifelong feelings of being “apart” and not really part of the group. Wow, thanks for the insight and information. Big issue I think. Wish someone had had that insight all those years ago and maybe encouraged me/us to become more active or just worked with me/us to correct an obvious problem. You’ve given me much food for thought, Stephanie.

    • Stephanie
      November 5, 2014 at 9:54 AM

      That is an amazing story Debrah. Thank you so much for sharing. Sending you so much love, light and prayers as you deepen your “ah-ha” moment! Please keep in touch and let me know if you do any of the crossing the midline excercises. It is easiest to rewire the brain from age 5 and under, but it is plastic your whole life! You can rewire your brain at any age!!

      • Dogmom
        November 5, 2014 at 1:23 PM

        I think it would be an interesting study to do and/or see if there is a correlation, long and short term, of children who have the natural inclination to W-sit and overweight and/or averse to exercise/movement in later life; I would bet big money there is because it’s so obvious. I don’t know of the midline exercises and am not sure how to learn about that. I guess these days Google is the easiest first step, but I would be interested in your thoughts. Others mentioned yoga and Pilates. I will start. This issue kept me awake last night thinking, thinking, thinking….. it truly was an ah-ha moment, but I’m not sure of all the implications right now.

        • Stephanie
          November 5, 2014 at 6:54 PM

          Absolutely, kids with low tone, tend to be way less active than “regular” kids. Like I mentioned in the post it’s an energy thing as well as not having the muscle structure to support the movement required being active. So low-tone kids EXPEND more energy doing simple things like sitting up, than a kid does with regular tone. Also correlated is the tendency for low tone kids to have gross-motor delays or dyspraxia like Penelope. So she can’t swing a bat, kick a ball, ride a bike like other kids, so she is smart, she would rather not do things she is not good at and other kids are better at then her…so she prefers legos, puzzles, reading, playing with the ipad, etc. So while part of that is her personality (her father is an engineer and she totally got his math/puzzle brain) and part of it she doesn’t want to go out of her comfort zone.

  • tristen anderson
    November 4, 2014 at 11:43 PM

    Well-written! I am a pediatric occupational therapist and you sound like one yourself! I hope that Penelope makes great progress this year and that you feel encouraged and supported as you walk alongside her.

    • Stephanie
      November 5, 2014 at 9:51 AM

      Thank you! I am not an OT, but I have been a bodyworker/healer for a long time. I love to learn about the body and how it works and brain/mind-body connection. Penelope has been my best teacher and mentor. 🙂

  • Madeleine
    November 5, 2014 at 5:29 AM

    My son always sat in a w, and I have only recently found out how bad it is for them. He also didn’t crawl. He’s now almost 9 and so many things are a struggle for him. He has very hypermobile joints and low muscle tone, poor fine motor skills and little perception of where his body is in space. He’s also under achieving at school. I’ve always known something was wrong but have been made to feel like a neurotic mother who expects her child to be a genius.

    Thank you for this information, it explains a lot.

    • Stephanie
      November 5, 2014 at 9:50 AM

      You are so welcome. Please check into seeing an OT, we have really made a lot of progressive at ours and I firmly believe that the brain is plastic and we are literally rewiring her brain right now, so that God-willing, when she is 9 years old she won’t have the same struggles your son has had to deal with. Many prayers coming from me to you both!

    • Leann
      April 2, 2016 at 8:28 PM

      Madeleine,
      My name is Leann, I’m 36 and my daughter Malena is 8 years old. I recently had cervical spine surgery and am not recovering well. Through this I was diagnosed with Ehlers-danlos Syndrome type 3 (EDS) a connective tissue disorder with hypermobile joints and weak muscles. Malena nor myself never crawled and I noticed at around 12 months old Malena’s ankles and feet turned inward. Pediatrician diagnosed her with femoral anteversion and assured me it gets better with time and eventually she’ll grow out of it. Due to my recent diagnosis and reading into EDS I was more aware of Malena sitting in a W position, recognized “her clumsiness” (AKA poor fine motor skills ) as I overlooked this prior due to myself being “clumsy” and extremely hyper flexible joints, she is easily injured and bruises easily. I was a very flexible child and still am as an adult. I have been dealing with health problems for 11 years and only now realized it is EDS. Malena also has EDS, her legs are turned inward and have worsened over the years not gotten better as pediatrician said. I overlooked these symptoms in my daughter because we have a great pediatrician that I trusted. In the end pediatrician overlooked all symptoms of EDS. I went elsewhere for Malena to be diagnosed. I am not diagnosing your son; just noticed the similar symptoms and wanted to let you know. EDS is misdiagnosed 90 percent of the time. I have 15 diagnoses in 11 years due to multiple doctors misdiagnosing me; even specialists. GOOGLE EDS and there is a Beighton test (do at home easily) and read about the symptoms. There are 6 types of EDS, if you have any questions, please contact me.

  • Cristin
    November 5, 2014 at 7:56 AM

    I was born with hip dysplaisia and sat like this most of my young life and in to my early twenties.
    It never cause me problems, and actually helped because of how different my hips and knees are compared to “normal” knees and hips. I Cheered competitively for many years, it has only been in t he last three years of the lack of exercise, post baby 2, that I have a sore hip…but this is related to my condition, yoga and the chiropractor have fixed it.
    I think there are extremes and in all cases and we can’t make an absolute for those…for some people, like me, that sitting like this helped because of the crazy brace and the way I sat the first year of my life. Who knows, maybe I was fixing the over flexing it caused.
    I don’t think people should read this and freak out, and yoga with kids is fun so make it fun….please don’t run to your pediatrician over this : /

    • Stephanie
      November 5, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      I don’t think people should read this and freak out either, which is why I wrote in the article: “If you see your child W-sitting, don’t freak out- I just want to bring this information into your consciousness so that you know it may be a red flag for other stuff.”

      However, your experience is the minority and like you said and extreme case, most kids who chronically sit like this will have issues.

  • Lauren
    November 5, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Thank you for this! I sat like this as a toddler/child and have a gait and instep imbalance because of it. 2 of my kids insist on sitting this way though we are constantly reminding them to put their legs straight.

  • Jenna
    November 5, 2014 at 6:26 PM

    Thank you so much for posting this. I too grew up sitting like this, sleeping like this curled up in a ball (probably an extreme case) but then at 36 was finally diagnosed with hip dysplasia just like Cristin after suffering several years of hip pain (I was also “clutzy”, ran funny, walked funny, etc. Unfortunately a dual hip replacement is in my future. While I wouldn’t “Freak Out” if your child is W sitting occasionally, if its the norm I would suggest talking to the pediatrician about it. The earlier your child can exercise the muscles that aren’t being used properly, the better off he/she will be later in life. (Not to mention the years of teasing they will avoid because of the awkwardness.) A daily exercise routine (started early) can have so many rewarding benefits, mentally, emotionally and physically.

    • Stephanie
      November 5, 2014 at 6:55 PM

      Thanks so much for sharing Jenna. I will be praying your double hip replacement goes smoothly.

  • Fatima
    November 6, 2014 at 1:26 AM

    Hi my daughter was taken to physiotherapy because she has intoeing gate, and they realised she was also ‘w’ sitting. I enjoyed your article but I didn’t understand wat u meant by low tone children or mid line. What is causing my daughter to sit like this?

    • Stephanie
      November 6, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      Those are hard ones to explain, I did the best I could in the middle of the article, about the 8th paragraph. After that, you can go to my original post about Sensory Processing Disorder and read some of the books I mention in that article to help you wrap your mind around it. It’s been around two years that Penelope has been diagnosed and I have been researching all of this and I still don’t feel like I have a good handle on it. It’s a very complicated thing to understand!

  • Sarah-Jane
    November 6, 2014 at 2:59 PM

    Hi – I’ve read this with interest because my son sits like this as have I most of my life…..People always told me not to when I was a child and I never understood why…I just want to reassure people that I sat like this and have never had any problems with hips. knees etc in fact I swam for my county and even swam the channel in my twenties….no long term problems as far as I can see!

    • Stephanie
      November 12, 2014 at 10:34 AM

      Thanks for sharing, but just because you are “fine” doesn’t mean your son, or someone else’s child, won’t have damage done. So you saying you are fine, it’s fine to let kids sit like this, doesn’t help anyone. It does a disservice to children every where why may possibly get hurt by sitting like this.

  • Cindy
    November 7, 2014 at 7:26 AM

    Low tone, weak core, intoeing and W sitting are all signs/symptoms results of cerebral palsy. My daughter has done all of these. As much as we tried to keep her from W sitting. Therapists, teachers, aides, parents…we were all vigilant but she continued, as it was the only way she could stay upright. She has had to have hip surgery and will most likely need it again. She has been in PT/OT for 14 years and has probably benefitted from it as much as possible. She is starting a Yoga class next semester

    • Stephanie
      November 12, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      Yes you are right, those things are not just limited to sensory/spectrum kids but CP kids as well, Not to mention kids with ADD and other diagnoses are often low-tone as well.

  • Diane
    November 7, 2014 at 11:22 AM

    W sitting could also be a sign of adrenal fatigue. You might want to look at how much sleep your child is getting, how much sugar and processed carbohydrates as well as how many “allergy foods” your child might be ingesting… I know that has helped us a lot.

    • Stephanie
      November 12, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      I know that core strength affects adrenals but did not know that adrenal fatique would be a cause of W-sitting as well, thanks for sharing! Thanks for sharing the things that can affect adrenals for others who did not know. For the record, Penelope is 80% grain-free, 100% gluten-free and does not eat any food she is allergic too. She’s never been a good sleeper though, but taking Natural Calm helps her fall asleep. Thanks again for sharing!

      • Leann
        April 2, 2016 at 8:39 PM

        My daughter and myself have adrenal problems. Low muscle tone, weak core, hyper mobile joints, sleep issues. That’s to say the least. Daughter W sits, as we correct her now. We both recently were diagnosed with Ehlers-danlos Syndrome EDS; connective tissue disorder. Please look into it, 90 percent are misdiagnosed as I have been suffering for 11 years and just got diagnosed. Although I have many issues, I am grateful to have correct diagnosis because this led to my 8 year old diagnosis. There is genetic testing for EDS.

  • Gudrun B
    November 12, 2014 at 5:53 PM

    most interesting info!!! though i am glad my former W-sitter is now 30 and has no further problems! Thinking back, she did it prior to walking and i always figured she did this to be able to get right back into a crawl position, since she was my most active child (and loved to be chased!) After she walked she would W-sit less and less.
    Again great info!!! Thanks!

    • Stephanie
      November 17, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      Glad to hear that! Thanks for sharing!

  • Crystal
    November 19, 2014 at 8:46 PM

    My youngest daughter has to go through physical therapy and occupational therapy as well and has had to work with crossing mid line. It has been a work in progress and we still in therapy. It all started with “head lag” and then her vistibular not kicking in and still not so much. Also we had to work on her trunk to get it strong and stable to hold herself up without being one who was flimsy and wobbly. A lot of friends and family didn’t quite understand why we would push her to roll over and crawl and just keep working with her and not just letting her do it on her own cause she could be affected by it later on in life with writing/reading. Great read to share with family and friends! Thanks for sharing!

  • Katrina
    November 20, 2014 at 3:22 PM

    This is so interesting! I never knew! None of my kids did the “W” sitting thing, but honestly I always thought it was cool (when I was a kid) when one of my friends sat like that. I would try, but I never stayed in that position for long because it hurt my knees.

  • D Mark
    November 30, 2014 at 6:38 PM

    Your child W-sit – was interesting to me. I remember I always sat like this as a child and loved the way I felt when I sat this way. When I grow to the point that I could no longer sit this way, I remember how much I missed it. In my older teen years and early twenties I often tried to sit that way but my muscles no longer stretched enough to make it comfortable. I was very athletic. I played baseball, basketball, volleyball, tennis, was on the track team and helped out on a farm. I was so surprised by the negative effectives. I still wish I could sit this way but at the age of 60 it isn’t going to ever be. I am still active and have what I consider amazing health. I can still physically do any active that I desire. I am not great making basketball ball shots but I can still try and come close.

    • Stephanie
      December 1, 2014 at 6:11 AM

      Glad to hear that!

      • Sheila
        December 5, 2014 at 5:45 PM

        Wow! Like Dogmom above, I sat in this position for preference at least until I was in my teens – and could still do this into my 40s – I’m over 60 now. It start as a toddler when I would literally just drop to the floor in a W. It’s true I have very poor co-ordination, terrible problems balancing, and for preference I’ve always opted for forms of physical exercise that used my flexibility (Yoga, Plates etc) rather than anything that needed stamina or strength, because I never had any of those. I never related it before to my sitting as a child. But my hips are pretty dodgy now. When I do Pilates and we have to swing our legs backwards and forwards in a big arc, I do it very carefully and generally bend my knee partway – because otherwise my hips ‘click’ as I get to a certain point – I have to sort of re-articulate (if that makes sense) to get past that point.
        But is it the case that discouraging a child who likes to sit W fashion from doing so will actually correct the lack of core strength and low tone that you’ve noted, if that is what causes it?

        • Stephanie
          December 6, 2014 at 11:06 AM

          It won’t necessarily correct it, you need to OT to rewire the brain and the nuerotransmitters that are causing the low tone. BUT it will help with increasing core strength and encouraging more crossing of the midline by sitting other ways. 🙂

  • Virginia
    December 12, 2014 at 9:23 AM

    Hi,
    I just stumbled on this and found your post very fascinating. My grandfather was a brilliant orthopedic surgeon and I so clearly remember w-sitting as a four year old, and my grandfather coming down really hard on me for it. He told my mom to never allow me to sit this way and she followed his advise to the letter. I remember resisting it because I loved to sit this way and being told in no uncertain terms that it was very very bad for my hips and I would have lots of problems later on if I didn’t stop. I very quickly learned that I wasn’t allowed to sit this way and soon got out of the habit. But I always wondered why other kids sat this way and their moms never did anything about it. But, of course, as I grew up I realized it is because they didn’t know it was bad for them. Because of my childhood experience, your post really intrigued me and I am glad their are other moms out there now who know that letting this posture become a habit is not good for your kids. I have always warned my own children not to sit this way, but the information on why they would be inclined to is very informative. Thanks!

  • Kelly
    January 13, 2015 at 12:01 PM

    Thank you for this info. I followed a recipe link to your site but saw this and needed to read. I worked as a para in a PI class before my youngest was born. I knew how bad the W sitting was and to offer other options but I never knew why they might do it. I figured it was easier for them but this was very enlightening. My youngest has sensory issues and AS so we dealt with a lot of fine and gross motor issues. W sitting was never a big issue for us but I wonder if that is because I corrected it from the very beginning so it was never really an option that he could get used to. So good to know this information now that I am again working with children.

  • DSchulz
    March 17, 2015 at 4:19 PM

    Very interesting and seems very helpful to others thinking more critically about their own childhood experiences. I have not observed W sitting in my daughter, but now I know more about what to look out for. Thanks for sharing.

    • Stephanie
      March 17, 2015 at 8:33 PM

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Jeannine
    May 13, 2015 at 11:12 AM

    I stumbled upon this today and I’m glad I did. This explains alot for me. I have always sat like this! I even have baby pics of me and my twin sitting like a W. I never thought it would cause damage; but since we were younger have had knee pain. Its just been comfortable, but I did notice that at times when I do sit like that for a long time and try to get up sometimes my knee will pop out of place (it hurts really bad). I try and remember to sit a different way. This all makes sense. Wow I cant wait to show her. Thanks

  • Nicole Newman
    July 27, 2015 at 7:45 PM

    My son is 10 months old and does it. He is a very busy boy so he doesn’t sit in that position very long. Is this something I should worry about at his age?

    • Stephanie
      July 28, 2015 at 5:59 AM

      I would if I were you. This is the time his brain is laying down the first neural pathways of body movement. Right now he is setting up in his brain of how to get into W-sitting and how to get out of it, and each time he does it, it sets it deeper in stone…it’s hard to explain the body mechanics as well as someone who has a PhD in physical therapy, but there are certain things that happens to the muscles of the hips and legs if a child is sitting like this. For example, because Penelope sat like this, the muscles in her core did not development properly. The muscles in her thighs did not develop properly (she also walked on her tip toes for awhile and that further messed up natural muscular development in her legs-because her achilles tendon was so tight, it was hard for her to do a squat position, so she just did other body movements to skirt around the movements that were hard for her, which made her thigh muscles super weak because she used other muscles…). Not that it can’t all be corrected with Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy-which Penelope has been in for three years and cost of tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket because insurance are scams. But God, what I would give to go back to when she was 10 months old and had just learned to walk and was getting up and down and in and out of sitting positions to help her do what is better for her body.

      • Nicole Newman
        August 3, 2015 at 10:20 PM

        My stomach just dropped! I will correct him from now on.
        And believe me , insurance campanies are pretty worthless. I am a nurse and work in a rehab facilities dealing with hip replacements, knee surgeries ect. Most of my patients need and would benifit with more therapy but because it comes down to the almighty dollar are kicked out. So sad.

        • Stephanie
          August 6, 2015 at 9:04 PM

          yup, they are all scam. such a sad health care system we have.

  • Maggie
    October 3, 2015 at 1:28 AM

    Oh how w sitting has ruined my life. I sat like this up till the age of 11. Then I started having intence pain in my legs. Went to the doctors, he knew nothing of what was causing it, he sent me to physio. Now I know what it was from, w sitting. All through middle and high school I wasn’t able to walk as long of distances or even run for any longer then a few minutes without the pain going through my legs. I had exercises they gave me and after a few years I stopped cause they didn’t work at all. All my friends amd classmates don’t even believe me when I told them this, saying I was just looking for attention and to get out of gym class. I would have loved to join them in games, and playing, even running. But this is what happened cause of the way I sat, so now I make sure to always let people I see sit like that know what can happen. One kid I went to asked why my feet were weirod, he was sitting in the w position, so I said it was from sitting the way he was, he never sat that way again. But that’s life. So even now I have trouble walking and running, forever having my feet turns inwards and pain when I walk to much.

    • Stephanie
      October 3, 2015 at 9:37 AM

      Thanks so much for sharing Maggie. Hopefully sharing stories like yours will help prevent another child from your experience. It’s such a simple fix if all adults would be on the look out and tell a child to sit criss-cross applesauce when they see w-sitting. So easy. Lots of love to you.

    • Leann
      April 2, 2016 at 8:52 PM

      I myself have the same issues, I’m 36 and for 11 years have been misdiagnosed several times. I had to have surgery on my cervical spine due to scoliosis and herniated discs. I was not healing and in severe pain. Genetic testing revealed I have Ehlers-danlos syndrome, AKA EDS. A connective tissue disorder that presents with hypermobile joints and multiple other symptoms. With EDS we are all different. It’s the invisible disorder to others but changed my life because of pain, clumsiness, balance issues and inability to sleep yet I feel exhausted. If you get time look into EDS, there are 6 types. I have type 3 and a physiatrist diagnosed me along with genetic testing.

      • Stephanie
        April 6, 2016 at 5:48 AM

        Thank you so much for sharing Leann.

  • kristen
    February 15, 2016 at 3:23 PM

    Hello! I’ve been reading your site for a while now and finally got the
    courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Huffman Texas!
    Just wanted to mention keep up the great job!

    • Stephanie
      February 23, 2016 at 5:33 AM

      Hi Kristen! Thanks so much for the words of encouragement! Welcome! So happy to have you here. 🙂

  • Angela
    March 11, 2016 at 4:31 PM

    I have a question my son has really good core strength, but he w-sits and he doesn’t talk very well and he didn’t crawl for very long either. He’s slowly starting to talk more and more, but he has a really hard time paying attention and potty training was going good then all of a sudden he didn’t want to go potty in the potty anymore. He’s advancing in learning other things really quickly but not talking. I don’t know what to do. Can anyone help me?

    • Stephanie
      March 15, 2016 at 7:14 AM

      If you have some mama red flags going off, get him evaluated. By a pediatric OT first, not his pediatrician. After working in a preschool this year, I am SHOCKED by how much a regular pediatrician can miss.

  • Jessica
    June 18, 2016 at 9:49 PM

    I’m slightly confused if w-sitting is a sign of an existing problem, or something that causes a problem?

    My daughter has been doing it for a while and it’s her preferred way to sit. She will easily switch to long sit or legs crossed if we tell her to. She can run, jump. She’s 23 months old.
    She really likes to scoot on her knees from w sit too, and will sit that way to have a tantrum.
    But I’m not really seeing any of the signs that there is anything else wrong or any damage from it. She didn’t skip crawling, but when she started walking she just went straight into real walking, she never walked holding onto a table or toy etc.

    • Stephanie
      June 23, 2016 at 7:38 AM

      It can be both. A red flag that something is going on non-typical neurologically in her development, or a red flag that her core is not strong enough to sit normal criss-cross applesauce. AND it can cause knee issues and un-balanced leg muscle growth later.

      If she were my child, I would tell her to sit criss-cross applesauce every time you see her w-sit. As a preschool teacher this is what I do in the class room, no children are allowed to sit like that on my watch. And if she were mine, I would keep a close watch on her development and spend time educating myself so I know what to look out for.

      Good luck.