Starfish Therapies

April 27, 2009

A Glossary of Sitting

Based on the questions I got from my last post, I decided to create a  glossary of sitting!


W-sitting:   As you may or may not of read in my last post “Why is W-Sitting a Four Letter Word?” I am not a fan of this sitting position.  You will know your child is sitting this way when you see their bottom on the floor and their knees bent with their feet on the outside of their hips.  If anyone has questions as to why I don’t like this position please refer back to the before mentioned post!


Kneeling: This is a position that can often get confused with w-sitting.  In fact I often have parents get concerned when their child sits like this.  The difference between kneeling and w-sitting is that when kneeling, your child will be sitting with their bottom on their feet, not on the floor. Their feet will be underneath them, not on either side of their hips!  The only time I get concerned with this position is if a child has tight hamstrings and this is the only position they will sit in.  You will notice that they tend not to sit in the following positions.


Side Sitting: I actually really like this position.  It is when your childs knees are bent and their feet are both going toward the same side of their body.  I like this position because it maintains flexibility of their hips without putting them at risk.  This position also forces your child to use their trunk muscles.  Just make sure they are switching between having their feet to the left and their feet to the right!


Short Sitting: This one is pretty easy.  Its how your child sits on a chair or a stool or a step, etc.  The best short sitting is when they have their feet touching the floor so that their knees and hips are bent at right angles.  If you really want them to develop their trunk muscles let them practice sitting without a back rest so they can’t relax into a slump!


Tailor Sitting: Popularly known as ‘criss cross applesauce’ and one of the more favored ways of sitting.  Prior to our world becoming PC it was known as ‘Indian Sitting.’  I say this only because I have found very few people who know what Tailor Sitting is when I say it.  Basically your child’s bottom will be sitting on the floor with their feet crossed in front of them.  This is generally the ideal sitting position for circle time and other floor based learning/playing at school.


Ring Sitting: Very similar to tailor sitting except that your child’s legs are not crossed in front of them, but rather form a ring with their feet touching to complete the circle.  This is a more stable position than tailor sitting especially when children are first learning to sit.


Long Sitting: This position is great for keeping your kids hamstrings stretched out.  It is when they are sitting with their legs straight out in front of them.  If your child is not able to sit up tall in this position or they have to constantly lean back on their hands, it may be a sign that their hamstrings are tight.

I hope this brief description of various sitting positions was helpful.  Even though w-sitting is the only one I have said is bad, your child should be moving in and out of any of these sitting positions easily and not staying in one spot for endless periods of time!



  1. VERY informative! Thank you for sharing your knowledge …I will now be observing my daughters and their various sitting positions with better insight!!

    Comment by Shaina — May 1, 2009 @ 3:51 pm | Reply

  2. […] up in the womb for 9 months.  You can also as they get older encourage them to long sit (see A Glossary of Sitting to figure out what this is) which is a functional way of keeping hamstrings at an optimal length.  […]

    Pingback by Strategies For Stretching « Starfish Therapies — August 2, 2009 @ 8:57 pm | Reply

  3. […] 5.  A Glossary of Sitting […]

    Pingback by Top 10 Blog Posts of 2011 « Starfish Therapies — December 31, 2011 @ 4:16 am | Reply

  4. I W-sat my whole life (age 51) and never even heard of this! I am having a difficult time believing it is so inherently dangerous to our children since I have some issues with joints, but my daughter has completely opposite ones, yet we sat in the same positions. Granted we didn’t use W-sitting as the ONLy choice, but definitely the dominant one.

    I am bowlegged and duck-footed (toes point out -well, I’ve self-corrected and walk with toes forward, but ankles curved seriously inward – however, I do not kick my own ankles this way!). My daughter is more knock-kneed and pigeon-toed, like my mother, who NEVER W-sat (she thought it looked painful, but figured I was comfortable and grew fine.) I have “double-jointed” hips, my daughter does not – she had a knee-devlopment issue that resemebled Osgood-Slaughters (spelling?) disease, but that my Father had and it’s inherited in the family – he was very bowlegged, however. I was a klutz – fell off the sidewalk while walking, but rode my bike at 4 and climbed to the top of the climbing set at 1-1/2. My daughter was less of a klutz and turned carwheels at 4 without trianing or assitance, rode her bike at 4 and ice-skated doing spins at 5, rode horses at 7 and did very well at it. She also swing dances and bikes, but still has some knee issues.

    We both also sat in a position that I do not see listed and wonder what the consensus on that one is now (which I still do regularly) – that’s like Indian-style/Tailor-sitting but with the feet on top. That is also very comfortable to me still. I do not have core stability problems and can specifically recall doing a full turso twist and picking up toys directly behind me from a W-sit; leaned all the way to the floor in front (and back) to play with things and people; and reached crossbody in this position to play with both hands on one side. I am quite ambidextrous and so is my daughter.

    So, I guess what I’m saying/asking is – is W-sitting really so terrible if the child has no developmental issues? The tone of this article is that it is the bane of a child’s existence and should be outlawed at all costs. I’ve seen a couple of other articles tonight that are more moderate in their expression. I’m sure that if my daughter had not walked at 9-1/2 months I might have had questions and concerns, but she has done well. ALso, she never crawled on her knees, which I am now told is a sign of a devlopmental disorder – she “spider crawled” as I labelled it – on hands and feet only. She began this at 5 mos and was very quick in movement. I think she didn’t crawl on her knees because she has “floating kneecaps” like I do – but this is from birth, not from the W-sit or any other bad posturing – it is definitely inherited through the generations – although it may explain why we like certain odd sitting positions – I dont’ know.

    Just trying to educate myself since my experience has been so very different from what is described here. Not trying to pick on or disregard your advise. I appreciate any thoughts you might have. Thanks!

    Comment by Allison — April 24, 2012 @ 4:36 am | Reply

  5. […] Make sure kids hamstrings stay flexible.  Its a lot easier to keep them flexible than to stretch them later.  When hamstrings are tight it can tip our pelvis backwards so that it flattens our low back spine.  To help with keeping hamstrings flexible have kids avoid w-sitting and long periods of kneeling as these will both shorten the hamstrings.  They should sit in a variety of positions such as ‘criss cross’ or with their legs straight out in front of them.  Here are some different sitting positions. […]

    Pingback by Ideas for Helping Kids Develop Better Posture « Starfish Therapies — May 21, 2012 @ 12:05 pm | Reply

  6. As a child doing ballet, my ballet teacher always made us W sit as she believed it trained our legs and feet to be able to face sideways more when doing the standing positions. I was knock kneed as a child and I think the W sit helped me some… But not sure if it has caused any permanent damage. I am 34 and although my 2 daughters are doing ballet, they have never been taught to sit in the W sit fashion that I was taught.

    Comment by homeschoolsojourn — August 5, 2012 @ 10:24 am | Reply

  7. […] Make sure kids hamstrings stay flexible.  Its a lot easier to keep them flexible than to stretch them later.  When hamstrings are tight it can tip our pelvis backwards so that it flattens our low back spine.  To help with keeping hamstrings flexible have kids avoid w-sitting and long periods of kneeling as these will both shorten the hamstrings.  They should sit in a variety of positions such as ‘criss cross’ or with their legs straight out in front of them.  Here are some different sitting positions. […]

    Pingback by PT Corner: Ideas for Helping Kids Develop Better Posture — August 27, 2012 @ 7:07 pm | Reply

  8. Studying for my NBCOT exam…great post! Thanks 🙂

    Comment by Emily — December 5, 2012 @ 8:40 pm | Reply

  9. […] 7.  A Glossary of Sitting […]

    Pingback by Top Ten Blog Posts of 2012 « Starfish Therapies — December 31, 2012 @ 7:00 am | Reply

  10. learn from my mistake. i thought indian sitting was cool and i moved a lot so i never bough a chair and table at sat on my 2” foam pad reading from my laptop for the last 15 years. my left foot was always tucked under my right leg. it went to sleep and i uncrossed my legs thousands of times a year. recently cramps got worse and crept up my left calf. i dont know what to do. i think my nerves are shot. be well.

    Comment by giles gallo — April 6, 2013 @ 1:38 am | Reply

  11. […] 4.  A Glossary of Sitting […]

    Pingback by 2013 Recap and Top Ten Posts | Starfish Therapies — January 1, 2014 @ 5:18 pm | Reply

  12. I’ve been exploring your posts…they are very helpful. My son is 7 months with some developmental delays. He has not rolled over from tummy to back, or back to tummy. He can almost sit supported, very supported. We are working with a physical therapist. I saw one of your post with specifics things that may indicate there is a delay in a childs development. One, which was listed under 6 months, said something along the lines of, “prefers to stand” or “arches back and extends to stand.” what exactly could this indicate? My son always, always wants to stand. It is extremely difficult to get through tummy time or any amount of time sitting. Thank you for your input

    Comment by lauren tidwell — January 8, 2014 @ 6:53 pm | Reply

  13. what are some ways to help children avoid sitting on their knees while seated at a desk in the classroom?

    Comment by michelle — February 3, 2014 @ 1:09 am | Reply

  14. I know this post was a hundred years ago, but I am pleased to see someone else still commenting haha! My daughter sits in a wide V, her legs out wide in front of her. She is a year old. We are wating for Early Intervention to make their visit but I was wondering what your take on this position is? Love this site, thank you!!

    Comment by S — February 13, 2014 @ 12:49 am | Reply

    • Thanks! My guess would be that she is keeping her legs straight in order to maintain stability in sitting. The goal would be to get her to start to be able to sit with her legs bent in a ring sit initially and then down to tailor sitting. She may need some help with this by having someone give her a little extra support at her legs while they are bent and slowly decreasing the support. And, the more you keep her distracted with toys she likes, the easier it will be for you to ‘trick’ her into getting her legs bent. Hope this helps a little!

      Comment by Starfish Therapies — February 13, 2014 @ 3:02 pm | Reply

  15. […] turn and stay like that, but he would immediately start to cry very intensely. Putting him into a side sitting position also scared him a bit and he would continue to cry. He didn’t even want to have his […]

    Pingback by A cranky baby? – behind the scene | The Sensory Hub — June 2, 2014 @ 6:16 pm | Reply

  16. I disagree with side sitting as an option. I’ve always sat that way and I have so much trouble with my hip now as an adult. I can’t sit with both legs crossed because it is so uncomfortable. Since trying to fix my side sitting, I’m just uncomfortable all the time. Now it hurts to cross both legs or to sit with my leg to the side. I would not let your kids sit like that.

    Comment by runforcandy — July 10, 2014 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

  17. […] 5.  A Glossary of Sitting […]

    Pingback by Top Ten Posts of 2014 | Starfish Therapies — December 31, 2014 @ 4:50 pm | Reply

  18. What’s the one with sitting on one folded leg and leaning on the other?

    Comment by peanutbutternj — May 21, 2015 @ 8:27 am | Reply

    • I’m not sure I understand completely but you could be talking about tailor sitting (criss cross) or side sitting. Hope that helps.

      Comment by Starfish Therapies — May 27, 2015 @ 3:10 pm | Reply

      • Hi, thanks. But it’s not that one. Imagine one leg is folded and you’re sitting on it, then the other leg is folded but vertical (with foot flat on floor), and you’re leaning against it. Is there a name for this sit?

        Comment by peanutbutternj — June 16, 2015 @ 12:15 am

  19. […] W-sitting is to discourage it from the beginning.  Encouraging other sitting positions such as criss-cross, long sitting, side sitting, half kneeling or even using a small chair if the hips are tight are all good alternatives.  Being consistent with correcting as well as […]

    Pingback by So….What is wrong with W-sitting? | Go-To-For-OT Blog — October 1, 2015 @ 1:50 pm | Reply

  20. […] 3.  A Glossary of Sitting […]

    Pingback by Top Ten Blog Posts of 2017 | Starfish Therapies — December 30, 2017 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

  21. […] Source: A Glossary to Sitting (2006). Retrieved from […]

    Pingback by Posture: Why It is Important and How an OT Can Help! - Ally Pediatric Therapy — February 4, 2019 @ 6:38 pm | Reply

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