If You See Your Children Sitting In This Position, Immediately Stop Them
Most children move in and out the W-position amongst others when playing. However, parents should consider this position as a four-letter word. You probably wonder why this position is ok for some children, and forbidden for others.
While playing sitting in different positions, including the W-position and others as well, children develop the trunk control and the rotation necessary for midline crossing, or reaching across the body, as well as the separation of the two sides of their body. All these skills and movements are required for child’s development of refined motor skills and hand dominance.
Orthopedists tend to forbid W-sitting to everyone. Yes, almost all children move through this position whenever they play, but parents should be aware that the excessive use of this position, especially in the developing and growing years, can result in future orthopedic problems.
Why do children practice the W-sitting? All kids need to play, including the motorically challenged kids. While they play, they normally do not worry about maintaining their balance, but focus on the toys instead. Children who often sit in this position rely on it for additional trunk and hip stability and for easier toy manipulation and play.
When a child sits in the W-position, it is planted in place or fixed through the trunk. This position makes it easier for the kids to play with the toys in front of them, but prevents trunk rotation and lateral weight shifts, such as twisting and turning to reach toys on both sides. These movements, the trunk rotation and the weight shifts over each side let the kid maintain balance while running outside or playing on the playground and are required for crossing the midline while writing and doing table top activities.
It is understandable why this position is appealing to the majority of children, but perpetual reliance on W-sitting can prevent a child from developing more mature movement patterns needed when it comes to skills of higher level.
Which children should not sit in the W-position? For numerous children, the W-sitting should always be forbidden. This posture is especially contraindicated and it can even become detrimental for children who deal with some of the following issues:
- children with orthopedic concerns. This position can predispose hip dislocation, so if there is a history of hip dysplasia in the family, or a concern has been raised in the past, these children should be forbidden to sit in this position.
- children with muscle tightness should also avoid the W-position, since it may worsen their condition. This position puts the hip adductors, the hamstrings, the heel cords and the internal rotators in an extremely shortened range. If a kid is liable to tightness or contractures, encourage it to sit in another position.
- children who have development delays or neurological concerns should definitely avoid this position of sitting. It a child suffers from hypertonia, spasticity, (an increased muscle tone), W-sitting will provide for the abnormal patterns of movement trying to be avoided, under the direction of the therapist of the child. If these children sit in other sitting postures, it will benefit the development of more desirable movement patterns.
If a child often sits in the W-position, it might have difficulties developing a hand preference. W-sitting prevents rotation of the trunk and thus the children are less inclined to reach across the body and instead, they pick up objects on the right with their right hand and objects on the left with their left hand.
Advise children to sit in different positions. Notice how they got in that position, how they got out of it and what it took them to balance. Numerous movement components you are trying to encourage in the kids are used when getting in and out of the position of sitting. Still, moves in and out of the Q-position are done through straight-plane movement only, directly forward and backwards. For engaging into and maintaining the W-position kids do not use trunk rotation, weight shifting or righting reactions.
How to prevent W-sitting? The best and the most efficient way to prevent children to sit in the W-position is to prevent them develop this habit of W-sitting. Observe your child’s sitting and catch it before the child even learns to W-sit in the first place. Try placing them and teaching them to sit in alternative sitting positions. If you notice that your child has still discovered and learnt this position, help it move to another sitting position, or keep telling it to fix its legs. You should be really consistent in this.
If you play with a child down on the floor, hold his knees and feet together while they kneel or creep on their knees and hands. Thus, you will make the W-sitting for them impossible. The child is going to have to choose between sitting on one side and sitting back on their feet. Try encouraging your child to sit over both, the right and the left sides, since these patterns seek a certain amount of trunk rotation and lateral weight shift, and thus should fit in the child’s therapy aims.
If the child cannot sit in any other position than the W-position, talk with a professional therapist and ask them to recommend a supportive seating or some alternative position like prone and side lying. One alternative is the tailor sitting against the couch, or a small chair and table will also do.
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