My son favors a “W” sit, we use the phrase “fix your feet” or sit “criss cross applesauce,” but do you have any other suggestions?
Is it that he doesn’t have the core muscles or is it just a habit?
Answer: The “W” sit position is perfectly normal and happens a lot … but it is not preferred. It provides for a child a little bit like what “slouching” gives to adults–easy comfort. The hard part is getting him to change the habit, and the sooner you start the more effective you will be.
For toddlers and preschoolers, best is to keep changing the position. The sooner the motor memory of the new one takes over the better. For older children getting your child to make the change is harder but not impossible. It takes “track time,” more and more opportunities to be in the new position than in the old one.
As odd as this may seem, correcting your son while he is in this comfortable position is the least effective way to get him to change.
Your best best is to figure out how to cut his time in that position as mush as possible.
“Let’s move to another spot” can be helpful. You can also start up a new activity in a different place to make the change over for your son feel more natural.
Here are some strategies:
- Set up for success. Figure out as many places as possible, like against walls or other supports, where your child will be comfortable sitting up straight.
- 2. Make your expectations clear. You can ask before your child sits for him or her to start off in the criss-cross position or with legs straight out.
3. Use encouragement. Notice this correct position when you see it. No need to praise it with words like “good job” or “well-done.” The idea is just to mention your awareness of it with terms like “I noticed” or “I saw.” That kind of input spurs him or her on to want to sit better again. Save praise for when he or she has changed the habit. Believe it or not showing your child that you know when he or she is doing something right is your most powerful tool of all.
Low muscle tone does not cause this problem. However, sitting up straight is important for building strong core muscles. That helps posture and all other muscle development after that.
Ask us your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please specify in your e-mail if you would like your answer on-line or sent to you personally. Learn parenting skills here everyday on Dr. Sally Parenting.