"M" Sitting




“M-sitting” is a commonly used position by children. In this position, children sit on their bottoms with their knees bent, and their legs and feet splayed out to the sides in what looks like an 'M' or a 'W'. This position is used rather than sitting with both their feet to the side (mermaid sitting) or sitting cross-legged or long sitting. The child does this in an effort to lower their centre of gravity, so that they do not need to use their trunk muscles as much in holding their balance in sitting. This position is also very easy for them to adopt as they usually have lax ligaments in the knees.

It is very common (and normal) for children to move in and out of this position when playing on the floor. Problems from this position arise when the child sits in that way for an extended period of time.

The outward twisting of the foot relative to the thigh, leads to excessive strain on the knees and can later lead to knee problems.The outward twisting of the feet can also affect running and walking because the child fails to develop good push off from the ankle.

In the M-sitting position, the child is unlikely to use much rotational movement of the trunk, since this sitting position makes rotation movements awkward and therefore unlikely. The development of good rotation movement patterns is necessary for the development of good midline crossing ability. Continued sitting in this position also contributes to further stretching of the ligaments of the knee and to further laxity of these ligaments.

This sitting position can affect the development of motor skills, balance, and coordination. This will later affect their ability to perform writing skills and other table-top activities that are important in school. Babies and toddlers who sit with their hips and knees bent in front of their bodies twist and turn their trunks, as they reach for toys and move into and out of kneeling and standing. These stretching, twisting, and turning movements are important for developing coordination, strength, and flexibility of the trunk and legs. Children who sit in M-sitting do not twist the trunk in the same way to reach for toys, but instead pivot on their knees. They also move straight forward from sitting into the crawling position. The child is only able to use objects on the right side of the body with the right hand, and those on the left side of the body with the left hand - this could lead to coordination difficulties later in life.

When you see your child M-sitting, gently move his or her legs to a better position and gently say something such as "feet in front" or "sit nicely". Once the child gets the idea, you will find that he or she will move their legs when you remind them using whatever words they associate with sitting in a better position.

Another fun way to discourage the child from M-sitting is to draw a smiley face on the inside of his knees using a non-toxic, washable pen. (Tell the child that he must be able to see at least one smiley face when he is sitting on the floor.) If he sees only one smiley face he will be in side sitting position, which is acceptable. If he can see two smiley faces he is likely to be sitting cross-legged or in long sitting - either of which are acceptable sitting positions.

 At first, your child may be resistant to the correction when you ask him or her not to sit in the M-sitting position. However, it is important that you consistently make this correction when you see your child sitting in this way, as it can impact their growth and development in a significant way.