Criss Cross Applesauce, No! Criss Cross Sit Strong, Yes! PART 2: Action Steps
What to do now to improve your and your children’s posture
- Adults – especially caregivers, parents, and educators – are children’s most important role models. Everyone working with children can start to pay attentions to their posture when bending, sitting, standing, and walking. Are you curving your back right now?
- Sit squarely on your butt bones.
Inside the human body there are two bones at the base of the pelvis called the SITZ bones. Encourage everyone to sit squarely on their butt bones so that they are sitting on the SITZ bones and elongate their spines. Make it a game with your kids; they’ll love talking about their butts at the dinner table!! When sitting on the floor, adults can use a seiza bench, which is a simple wooden bench with a slanted top. Lots of versions are available online.
- Talk to your children about their posture.
Encourage your kids to “sit strong” (not weak), “sit tall”, or “sit straight” whenever they sit. That means when sitting on the floor, in car seats, in the stroller, doing homework – and especially while on phones, tablets, and any kind of technology.
- Use a simple rhyming song to remind yourself and your children.
Use any melody to remind everyone to sit in the “Criss Cross Sit Strong” position on the floor – you can’t get it wrong!
Criss cross Sit strong Straight spine Sing along
- Consider a prop for elementary school-age and older.
Sitting on the floor in criss cross requires significant hip flexibility, which is challenging for most adults and older children. Preschool-age children should have enough flexibility in their hips to sit with a straight spine on the floor. But if they have spent a lot of time in car seats and regular chairs, they may not have the flexibility to sit with a straight spine on the floor with crossed legs. You can offer a cushion, wedge-shaped pillow, or even 1” to 2” thick phone book or yoga block, to raise their hips higher than their knees.
- Allow alternative options for floor sitting.
For example, the “thunderbolt” position (see picture) is both comfortable and strong: legs folded at the knee and feet directly under the bottom. The back should be straight. Both adults and children can sit in the thunderbolt position. Children whose backs curve while sitting in this position have weak trunk muscles; they need lots of wheel barrow walks and “core strengthening”. (Note: this does not mean each leg sticks out to its respective side of the body – that is called a W-sit, and it is extremely straining on the knees.)
- Spread the word!
Please pass along this article to your children’s coaches and teachers! Our goal is that adults who work with children all over the United States switch from using language that encourages misuse of the body to “criss cross sit strong,” which encourages strong posture. Please tell us what suggestions are working for you!
- Small elementary school-age children like the girl in the photo above can sit on a foam ball which can support the bottom (the feet wrap around the ball on either side).
- For larger children, consider purchasing a foam yoga block or a 1½“ to 2” phone book (tape the sides so that it doesn’t open up).
- To learn more about posture, visit Jean Couch’s website.
- For another take on this issue, see Crisscross-Applesauce: It’s Time to Move on From This Tradition, by educator Rae Pica.
If you have any questions about posture, please contact us here.