Don’t Tell My Daughter To Sit “Like A Lady!”

As the self-proclaimed Queen of Words, I spend a lot of time thinking about words, how they are used and what they mean. Not so long ago, someone told my daughter to “sit like a lady” and I nearly exploded.

First and foremost, my 5-year-old daughter is not familiar with this phrase. She was immediately shamed in front of a group of people for not sitting “correctly” and having no idea how to modify her behavior. I felt my blood pressure rising. Her eyes diverted to me, where I smiled and kindly asked, “Where’s your feet?”

I won’t deny, my daughter likes to “W-sit.” “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. like a lady

On this particular day, she was “W-sitting” in a skirt. I had not noticed she was sitting in an indecent manner, but once I had turned to look because someone shouted for her to “sit like a lady!” across a crowded room, I saw what this person was seeing. Though I didn’t disagree with the concern, I did take issue with the manner it was handled.

I firmly believe it is not okay to reprimand a child for a minor grievance they are not familiar. Another example, after my c-section, everyone was trying to explain to my daughter, 3 1/2 at the time, to be careful around mommy’s tummy. But instead of explaining mommy had an “owie,” they would scold her for not being careful around me. I was so upset. Not only was a new baby in her world, turning everything upside down, but she was getting yelled at for something no one had explained to her.

Don’t misunderstand, if her safety was on the line, I would absolutely yell at her (if she ran into traffic, etc) and then explain later. But when it’s possible, I want her to understand the what’s happening before she’s scolded for it.

What does “sit like a lady” mean anyway? According to, it means legs together, knees in, ankles crossed. I’m sure this phrase originated when women wore skirts and dresses more regularly as not to indecently expose themselves. However, it’s not 1922 anymore and people aren’t using that phrase regularly. So my daughter didn’t learn it.

I asked her where her feet are as a kind reminder to pull her feet around so she wouldn’t “W-sit.” It’s bad for your knees and not a healthy way to torque your body.

It may seem like a small thing, but, to me, it’s more than an innocent little phrase. We don’t have to “sit like a lady” and we can sit any way we see fit!