w sitting

All about W sitting in Children

All about W sitting in Children

Normally when made to sit on the floor, a child uses many sitting positions. These are sitting with outstretched legs, legs bent to one side, W sitting, Cross-legged, or 1 leg bent over another outstretched leg. Let us know more about W sitting. Is it good, is it not?

What is W sitting?

W sitting is a sitting pattern where children sit with internal rotation at the hip, flexion at the knee, and plantar flexion at the ankles. So, the child makes a ’W’ pattern in sitting, if seen from above.

Is W always sitting a problem?

Not really, a child prefers to use this as one of many sitting positions. Generally, they shift from outstretched legs to W to crossed legs in general. We can easily direct the child to change this sitting position. So usually, W sitting in children, as an occasional pattern, is absolutely okay.

Click here to read more about W sitting

How can you help?

Remind a child to change their sitting. For toddlers, demonstrate. Offer to sit with them with legs in front of them, on their side, or on a chair, where feet rest easily on the floor.

  • Outstretched legs: when the child sits on the floor with both legs straight in front
  • Legs on the side: When a child sits on the floor with both legs on one side with bent knees
  • Crossed legged: When a child sits on the floor by crossing both legs at hip and knee
  • Half kneeling: like in the position we use to get up from the floor
  • Tummy time: for positioning the legs straight

A child prefers to W sit if:

They have a drooping posture with a wide base of support. We observe too, that exploration with hands is less.

When a child has a low tone, he uses a wide base of support.

This is also seen in a child with low truncal control and low core strength.

As opposed to above, a child with increased lower limbs tone also shows this sitting pattern.

The disadvantage of w sitting:

It can result in:

Tightness: Across hip, knee and ankle resulting. This results in poor gross motor skills. This can affect a child’s balance and coordination. These are also a result of medical conditions like Cerebral Palsy.

Trunk control: The ability to turn through the trunk can be affected. For young children, this is mostly observed during play and floor time!

Core: Signs of weak core muscles either flexion of the lower trunk or hyperextended lower trunk. Does the child sit with a curved back?

Affects: Reach, Truncal rotations, midline crossing, and bilateral hand use. Whats happens is, these issues limit a child’s movements affect easy interaction with its surroundings.

These limitations make you wonder: Can the child grab this toy, is there a limitation in using both sides of the body? Is the child visibly distressed when made to sit cross-legged or with legs straight in front?

W sitting is a preferred sitting pattern in:

  • Low tone or hypermobile joints as noted in Down’s syndrome, sometimes Autism

Read here to know about OT activities for Autism

In Autism, a child may have a lack of body awareness and awareness of movement through space. Inability to sit crossed leg after the demonstration is a concern of motor planning too.

  • Increased tone in conditions like Cerebral Palsy
Who can help:

Orthopedic consult to check for any deformity and intervention for correction/tone management. Additionally, Physical and Occupational Therapy intervention for splinting, correcting position, stretching, and strengthening.

For certain conditions using a modified chair for hip abduction, knee flexion, and ankle dorsiflexion is suggested.

Why seek intervention?

It is genuinely difficult for a child with concerns to sit cross-legged or with outstretched legs. Further, The stretching at ankles and knees causes them discomfort. Furthermore, for this, seek intervention to address their underlying cause. Contact Us if you have observed this in your child along with other sensory concerns.



Autism helper


Amruta Tamboli
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