Never Let Your Kids Sit in the “W” Position. Here’s Why!

“W-sitting” is a commonly used position by children. In this position, children sit on their bottoms, with their knees bent, feet tucked under, and their legs splayed out to the side in what looks like a “W”. This is a standard sitting position because children feel supported and secure. Many parents do not know or recognize the danger of letting a child sit like this for too long.

Sitting in a “W” position too often or for too long can negatively impact a child’s development and growth patterns.

The Negative Effects of “W-Sitting” Include:

  • Orthopedic Problems
  • Delayed Development of Postural Control and Stability
  • Delayed Development of Refined Motor Skills

These are the primary reasons why having a child sit in this position is strongly discouraged. We want our children to grow strong, and this type of sitting prevents that. It also puts unnecessary strain on the body.

Exclusive “W-Sitting” Puts Undue Stress On:

  • The Hip Abductors
  • Hamstrings
  • Internal Rotators
  • Heel Cords

Dislocation is easy and common with children who commonly sit in this position. Also, sitting in this position leads to shortened or tightened muscles. This can affect the development of motor skills, balance, and coordination. Also, “W-sitting” results in less need for stability, postural control, and weight shift during play. This weakens the trunk muscles or hinders their development.

The only way to stop or fix this poor seating habit is with consistency. Teach the child how to sit correctly and remind them of how to sit on the floor. One may also invest in a small desk or table with a chair.

For anyone who may get upset at this post, please reference this original and this child development article response. Not all “W” sitters will have severe issues, but it is still not recommended, as it can elevate risks.

Take a look at the video below for more ideas!

North Shore Pediatric Therapy


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Terri Davis Voss - December 26, 2015

Here is some data for you. I sat like that my whole childhood. I started having foot pain as when I was about 12 along with horrible hip pain. Now in my 40’s I have fibromyalgia but my feet have gotten worse to where I can barely walk most days. There has never been anything to help my feet or my hips they were damaged at a young age and just got worse as I aged.

Julie Berry Clark - December 26, 2015

My grandson sat like that when younger, and we noticed that he has/had a very awkward gait when walking or especially, running. He seems to be outgrowing it now, and I don’t notice him sitting like that any more, but if he does, I’ll mention it to him. Thanks.

Amy Jandek - December 26, 2015

This is NOT fear mongering. There absolutely is data to back this up if you’d do the slightest bit of research. First, I sat like this all of my childhood, despite my parents’ constant protest, and I had patellar-femoral syndrome throughout high school and a deteriorating hip, a rare condition at the age of 37. Today, I am an athletic trainer and will stop ANY child I see from sitting like this. I’m going to repeat…this is NOT fear mongering. You don’t let your kids us poor posture when sitting in chairs or during activities, why let them use poor posture sitting on the floor?

    Jan LaBouve Remling - December 27, 2015

    I agree, it is not a good position to use. I did not allow my kids to sit like that. I think their pediatrician told me about this….back in the early ’70s.

    frgough - January 5, 2016

    It’s bunk. Your bone and joint problems had nothing to do with how you sat. Learn the difference between causation and correlation. And stay away from my kid. You have no business shoving your ignorance in his face and scaring him needlessly.

    drake2k - January 28, 2016

    Could you show us the data? I am genuinely interested. I have been searching but didnt find a single study, let alone a peer reviewed one, supporting the fact that W sitting is bad for children.

Cj Palisoc - December 26, 2015

My 3yo son does this even he sits on a chair, good thing I always correct him by sitting properly.

MMW - December 27, 2015

Yes, its always something isn’t it??

AWilliams - December 27, 2015

As a child, I sat in the “W” position so much that my mother used to comment on it. I’m 64 now and still have excellent balance and none of these issues. I also ran track in high school and did some long-distance running as a young adult. I still sit this way once in a while just for fun. I teach young children who sit on the floor while I read to them and I always ask them to sit “criss-cross applesauce”but some default to other positions in spite of the reminders. I assume that not all are comfortable sitting cross-legged which makes me think that perhaps kids are already headed for a variety of issues with hips, feet, knees, etc. Is it possible that the “W” is a symptom rather than the cause of these issues? Just a thought…

Sarah McMillan - December 27, 2015

Why do people think that “I did this and I turned out just fine” is a good argument? Please stfu and take a course in logical reasoning.

    Echo - December 27, 2015

    I find it ironic that you think that, and yet it appears from your comment that you agree with the article which in itself doesn’t have any empirical evidence to support it. As well as being contradicted by the video used to “support” it. E.g. title says “NEVER” yet the video claims that it’s okay as long as they also sit in other positions. May I ask, where did you find the logical reasoning?

      Sarah McMillan - December 27, 2015

      I’ve read this before in other articles that did have empirical evidence and have also been told this several times by physical therapists who usually kinda know what they’re talking about when it comes to the body. Anyways, my comment wasn’t about the article, it was about the people commenting. But thanks for making assumptions based on no evidence whatsoever.

        Echo - December 28, 2015

        Whoah, ok… Erm breathe for a moment. I’m not the one calling names “please stfu” “take a course in logical reasoning”, it makes you sound angry (which I’m sure you’re not) and leads people to get a negative impression of you (first impressions are key as they say). My comment was simply a question as from purely what you said in your original comment, it came across as I suggested in my comment. What else am I meant to go on? Apart from your original comment? Also I would like to point out, which you seem to have over looked I didn’t “make assumptions based on no evidence” (apology accepted), what I actually said is “It appears” which is actually saying “you make it sound this way though I may be wrong” So I guess… that means you made assumptions about me and what I said based on false claims? correct?

        To respond to your comment, I’m not disputing whether it has negative effects or not. My comment never disputed that. However what my comment DID dispute is the reliability of this specific article. It contradicts itself and gives false information for click bate. It claims you should “NEVER” do this when actually studies have shown (I can link if you wish) and other articles have suggested that actually it’s okay in moderation (kind of like everything in life) which I guess is also supported by others comments (but then you don’t want to hear personal experiences so I will stfu about that, as you put it).

        Also regarding physical therapists being reliable, yes they probably are. I mean they’re trained in that area and are very knowledgeable. I personally have had a lot of help from some very wise physical therapists. However that doesn’t mean everything they say can or should be taken as gospel. Again, as with everything in life.

          Sarah McMillan - December 28, 2015

          I’m very angry actually. I’m angry that I see this argument over and over again nearly every day and it pisses me off that people think that just because they did something and turned out fine or that something was done to them and they turned out fine that that somehow negates the evidence that shows that there is a better chance of this or that if this or that happens. It’s never a good argument no matter what you’re arguing about or if what you’re arguing against has evidence or not and I do want people to stfu with that crap already. There is no excuse for that. We are not children. And I don’t care if people on these comments have a negative impression of me. I have a negative impression of them. And yeah I guess I misinterpreted your comment, which also, btw, could make it “seem” like you were angry.

          frgough - January 5, 2016

          And just because you did something and didn’t turn out alright doesn’t mean the practice is harmful.

          Rebekah P - February 24, 2016

          So, saying I did this and I didn’t turn out fine” is also, not ok to say either, I’m assuming? If we follow your logic.

          Also, if it bothers you SO much why do you continue reading it. Relax a little, there are bigger things in life to get all worked up over.

    Walter White - January 25, 2016

    Did you see BDR’s posting above? He or she is an Orthopedic Surgeon, he says there is no clinical evidence to support that W sitting is detrimental. Googling this topic, I found numerous Pediatric Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy practices giving erroneous information to correct kids from W sitting. Citing future orthopedic problems and the idea that kids will not incorporate rotational movements of the trunk and have poor trunk control and core strength. Here is why that is stupid: Kids change positions, sure, if they sat that way for 12 hours a day every day obviously that would be bad, but kids move around, a lot….When kids are laying down they are generally not engaging their core or rotating their trunk, so should we tell kids not to lay down? What nonsense…Correcting posture in general while someone is moving is illogical…”Straighten your back” while walking, PTs say to someone who lays in hospital bed all day, so you will have good posture. We walk with a patient for 5 minutes, yep thank God you straightened your back…Now for the next 23 hours and 55 minutes lay around however you would like…nonsense…if you say thay crap to others who rely on you for medical information, you suck at your job and you need to be called on it….there are exercises we can to for posture that are effective but simply saying move this way or dont move that way is garbage….

Dinosaur Physical Therapy - December 27, 2015

It is important to offer alternative sitting options to the w-sitting position. Tailor sitting (criss cross applesauce), long sitting, side sitting, tall kneeling, sitting on bolster, or prone are all great alternative sitting options!

Bigzigfitness - December 28, 2015

baaaahahahaha here’s fear mongering…adults using “criss cross apple sauce” instead of saying ‘Indian style.’ when people say to me that they sit like food, i say, “you mean Indian style?” because I am not afraid to speak the truth. People in India DO sit like that. Applesauce doesn’t.

Rebekah P - December 28, 2015

Like everything else in life, sitting like this, should be done in moderation. Even water (something you’d die without) will kill you if you drink too much. I hate how fear is used to dictate so much in our lives, right down to how we should allow our children to sit. And hate even more than this nation is full of sheeple, easily lead by fear.

bdr - December 29, 2015

I am a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and everything listed here is simply anecdotal evidence, people telling stories, not research. The source “article” listed in Mr. Wolfe’s entry above as a reference is really another web site blog entry that references a scientific journal article that doesn’t actually claim W sitting causes any problems at all. In fact there is NO evidence that W sitting is bad for you any more than there is any evidence that sitting cross legged is bad for you. There is exactly zero evidence that W sitting is a problem and orthopedic surgeons in this country do not advise against it.

frgough - January 5, 2016

What a load of bunk. Kids are more flexible than adults. Quit projecting your aches and pains onto kids who can tuck their leg behind their head and think it’s fun.

ELBE - January 5, 2016

Nice to know (from the video) that sitting that way is not a problem if they move in and out of that position. It is PROLONGED sitting in that position that is purportedly associated with issues. This makes the headline “Never let your kids sit in the W position” false!

Big__Nate - January 6, 2016

You notice how the writers never really check the feedback on their articles? If they did, they would see we think the whole thing is ludicrous.

wlexxx - April 25, 2016

no proof., besides you can FIXYRFEET 10000 times a day and they will still find 10000 other times to do it

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