Saturday, May 18, 2013

"W" Sitting Alternatives: Needs + Rationale

What is “W” sitting?

Marianne Gibbs, EdD, OTR/L
Gibbs Consulting, Inc.

“W” sitting occurs when children sit on the floor with their legs bent in the shape of a “W”. Observe your students today and see how they sit on the floor at school and home. Do they sit in the “W” position?

Why do children “W” sit?
Children may develop a habit for “W” sitting as a way to establish increased stability in their bodies when they cannot assume and maintain the criss-cross (tailor) sitting position. Unfortunately, “W” sitting compromises knee and hip joint positioning, inhibits trunk stability needed for sitting, and may impact the development of proficient hand skills. 

What should teachers and parents do when a child is a “W” sitter?
Teachers and parents should gently, but firmly discourage “W” sitting. I recommend allowing a variety of sitting positions especially if kiddos are struggling or have pain sitting in the criss-cross position. All of the following positions support healthy joint development and learning.

Recommended Sitting Positions:

1.      Long Sit (legs straight out in front of torso)
2.      Side Sit (legs bent and tucked to one side)

3.      Lying on Tummy (propped up on elbows) 

4.      Lying on Back (propped up on elbows)

5.      Sitting on a small to medium-sized ball with feet connected firmly with the ground is a fun way to sit and gain coordination at the same time.

We should expect young children to move in and out of positions when sitting on the floor - that is natural and the way kids stay alert and learn to manage their bodies in space. Just as one size does NOT fit all, one sitting position will never accommodate the sitting needs of all children. Young children learn best when their bodies are safely and comfortably positioned. When you support a variety of appropriate sitting positions, you are setting all children up for success!

photo of: Write Out of the Box: Fine Motor Skills at PreK+K Sharing

Marianne Gibbs, Houston Occupational Therapist

Marianne Gibbs, EdD, OTR/L
Write Out of the Box

Note-from-the-editor: This is very significant insight and often "unknown" by parents. Would you please help pass the word by 'pinning' from this post? Your pin is the most direct way to circulate this information to a wider group. Please share directly with those that you have the opportunity to impact. Thanks for your support of behalf of developing children everywhere. ~~ Debbie 


  1. This is a wonderful article. I will pass it along to my incoming students' parents, and to my daughter-in-laws.

  2. I agree, wonderful article. Last Thursday I took my 22 month-old daughter to the therapist to see what we can do about it. I got a lot of good tips... We're working on her muscles doing some gym sitting on a yoga ball, jumping and now pedaling too - whenever she sits in W position we say the word "perninha" that means little leg in Portuguese (the language we speak at home) and she changes her sitting position. I thought it would be more difficult, but I can see progress in only a few days. This is great!


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