Describes 3 experiments with a total of 92 3-5 yr. olds. Exp. I compared the effects of external and cognitive distraction from reward objects on the length of time which Ss waited for a preferred delayed reward before forfeiting it for a less preferred immediate one. In accord with predictions from an extension of frustrative nonreward theory, Ss waited much longer for a preferred reward when they were distracted from the rewards. Exp. II demonstrated that only certain cognitive events (thinking “fun things”) served as effective ideational distractors. Thinking “sad thoughts” produced short delay times, as did thinking about the rewards themselves. In Exp. III the delayed rewards were not physically available for direct attention during the delay period, and Ss’ cognitive attention was manipulated by prior instructions. While Ss waited, cognitions about the rewards significantly reduced, rather than enhanced, the length of their delay of gratification. Overall, attentional and cognitive mechanisms which enhanced the salience of rewards shortened the length of voluntary delay, while distractions from the rewards, overtly or cognitively, facilitated delay. Results permit a reinterpretation of basic mechanisms in voluntary delay of gratification and self-control.